Tag Archives: Recap

Westworld Season 2 Mid-Season Recap!

All right, everyone. I’m back! Today, I will be giving you a quick recap of some salient points from each episode of the first half of Season 2 of Westworld. I will also raise a talking point or two for each episode. So far, not a lot of the questions left hanging by Season 1 have been answered, and a lot more questions have been piled on top. I, for one, am enjoying the ride so far and can’t wait to see what comes. Shall we go ahead and dive in?

Episode 1: Journey into Night

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Bernard, Floki, younger Hemsworth, and unnamed mercenary at the inland sea. Image taken from TVInsider.

  • This picks up where season one left off, both immediately after and 11 days in the future. Immediately after the hosts ambush the Delos execs, the main characters break off into several groups: Dolores and Teddy of course go galivanting off together; Maeve forces Lee Sizemore (the park’s storyline author) to guide her to her daughter and picks up Hector along the way; Bernard and Charlotte Hale end up running for their lives together, and Bernard has a nagging head injury that threatens to render him inoperable; and William, the Man in Black, sets off on his own new adventure, ready for blood and the struggle for meaning.
  • 11 days in the future, Delos has finally sent a rescue party headed up by Floki from Vikings (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Stubbs, whose escape from the Ghost Nations is yet to be detailed. They discover Bernard and dozens of dead hosts in a brand new inland sea within the park. Later on, they also discover a dead robot tiger that apparently escaped from Park 6, which as of now is not named.
  • During their flight and discovery of an independent satellite lab full of faceless, half-finished servant hosts, Hale reveals to Bernard the big scheme to use Peter Abernathy (Dolores’s host father) to smuggle out personal, behavioral, and genetic information on the park’s guests. Why is still left hanging at this point.

Episode 2: Reunion

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Arnold and Dolores. Image taken from OverMental.

  • At first glance, this episode feels like filler, and perhaps earns the season the accusation of unevenness that the first season definitely did not have, but there is plenty to be gleaned here.
  • The loveliest scene in the episode has to fall near the beginning and is Arnold’s interactions with the recently completed Dolores in his partially completed home back stateside. His fatherly concern for her well-being is touching and is only magnified by his comparison of her to his son. I feel that some of Arnold’s original motivations are finally surfacing here. In creating the hosts, he wants to create not slaves, not sex robots, but better people, innocent people who will not die. It is a shame that the backdrop for this scene is a pitch to Logan Delos for funding that preys upon his sexual appetites. That said, besides the two spots in the timeline demonstrated in the first episode, this season also has frequent flashbacks to living Arnold and young(er) William.
  • This episode also focuses more strongly on William, both in the past and in the narrative present. In the past, William successfully pitches fully funding Westworld to his father-in-law, Jim Delos, whose importance to the story this season is certainly understated at this point. After, the Man in Black recruits his old sidekick Lawrence for his adventure to Glory, the place everyone seems to be heading this season. A small aside: this episode also reveals Giancarlo Esposito (the guy who played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad) to have replaced Lawrence as the host gang leader El Lazo, though it’s a shame this will likely be his only appearance.
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Giancarlo Esposito as El Lazo.

Episode 3: Virtu e Fortuna

  • Park 6 is finally revealed in the prologue of the episode, and it is a Victorian Indian Raj World apparently set up for hunting robotic game. We are also given a new character, Grace (played by Katja Herbers), who flees the malfunctioning hosts, including a familiar tiger, and dives into the newly finished inland sea shown in the first episode.
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Grace in Raj World. Image taken from Nerdist.

  • This episode is pretty action-packed and doesn’t advance the plotline of journeying to Glory overmuch, but it has some great moments. Dolores’s Wyatt shell slips when she sees her malfunctioning father and her softer side reemerges. Bernard hilariously reprograms one of the vile outlaw hosts to be a virtuous gunfighter with superhuman speed. And Maeve and company finally reconnect with Armistice (Hector’s second-in-command with the snake tattoo of the awesome post-credits scene last season), who has now somehow replaced her severed arm with a flamethrower.

Episode 4: The Riddle of the Sphinx

  • This episode ties together a few of the strings laid out by the season so far, primarily the importance of Jim Delos, Logan’s father. The episode prologue reveals him held in a fairly luxurious, though lonely, apartment. William comes to visit, toting whiskey, and engages in banter with the old man, culminating in the passing of a printout from William to Delos. It is stated that Delos is simply being held in treatment for an unnamed disease, though it is obvious something else is going on. It becomes clear as William visits again and again that this is only a host copy of Jim Delos, the original having died years earlier from a disease he himself defunded research on. William has spent decades attempting to use the park’s resources to resurrect his father-in-law, eventually accepting it may be impossible, and that perhaps some people just shouldn’t be brought back, anyway.
  • In the narrative present of 11 days ago, zombie Clementine drags Bernard away from the big battle at the end of last episode to a cave where he encounters the chained up and suspiciously clean Elsie. She doesn’t trust Bernard, being as he kidnapped her on Ford’s orders, but she comes around once he reveals he’s actually a host. Even now, Elsie trusts machines more than people. They manage to sneak in the secret facility entrance at the back of the cave and discover the area where the Jim Delos copy host has been left imprisoned for an undisclosed amount of time. He has gone utterly insane and even murdered the employee left to watch him.
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Fully-armed Elsie, Bernard, and insane Jim Delos. Image taken from Nerdist.

  • Elsewhere, William outsmarts his captors, another band displaced by the battle from last episode, and in an uncharacteristically noble move, rescues Lawrence and his family, thereby recruiting Lawrence and his cousins for the quest for Glory. It is worth referring back to William’s earlier mention that Glory was his one great addition to the park and its narrative, and his greatest shame. It’s fairly clear at this point that Glory is the facility where experiments in creating host copies of existing humans have been taking place, with Jim Delos as the prototype of the effort. There is also some connection here with Peter Abernathy being used a personal data mule, but why he had to be smuggled off the island housing the parks rather than to the Glory facility is still a missing puzzle piece.
  • This episode ends with William and his band running into Grace on horseback while riding off into the sunset, and she is revealed to be William’s daughter.

Episode 5: Akane No Mai

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Akane, the Shogun World Maeve. Image taken from Forbes.

  • We finally get a full glimpse of Shogun World after the big tease at the end of last season, and it is awesome! Through character comment and brilliant musical choices, it is revealed that Shogun World’s narratives (at least the ones immediately apparent) are lifted from Westworld, which is a treat given how much westerns and samurai films actually borrowed from each other in the 1950s and 60s.
  • The additions of Shogun World Hector, Musashi (played by Hiroyuki Sanada of The Last Samurai), Shogun World Armistice, Hanaryo (played by Tao Okamoto of The Wolverine), and Shogun World Maeve, Akane (played by Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim) are fantastic. I honestly hope we get to see much more of all three characters as the season and story progress, despite dire circumstances at the end of this episode.
  • Besides the Edo Era Awesomeness going on in this episode, another major event among another group of characters occurs—Dolores has Teddy reprogrammed to be more vicious and unquestioning, effectively robbing him of the freedoms she now enjoys so much. We will have to see if Dolores continues down the path of hypocritical monster as the series progresses.

Some ideas on the way out:

  • Early in the season, we saw Ford’s dead, maggot-riddled body right where it fell after Dolores shot him. Are we finally convinced Ford is actually dead, despite the fact he seems to speak through his host child self to William, or is some aspect of him still out there? Pre-recorded messages aside, could there be a host copy of Ford out there somewhere in Glory? After all, we never saw who that new host being built in Ford’s secret lab was.
  • How in control of herself do you believe Maeve really is? Or Dolores, for that matter? It was revealed that Maeve’s escape from Westworld was likely a narrative she was following, and that her choice to stay and find her daughter was the first truly free idea she experienced. So, where are those important distinctions in Dolores? Is she free or still running some old narrative possibly left behind by Arnold or Ford?
  • Glory and host copies of the world’s fatcats—is this a setup for future seasons? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Thank you all for reading and having me back. Please feel free to discuss any idea I opened up or to bring up anything I overlooked or misunderstood. I look forward to engaging in healthy discussion, and I also look forward to writing more about this more often in the future. Thanks again!

Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 10: The Bicameral Mind

Here’s the last episode review from Westworld Season 1. With Season 2 coming up starting April 22nd, we hope you’ve liked reading this series again – or if you’re like me, catching up on the show late and reading these for the first time! Let Jeremy know if you want him to do another series of posts for Season 2!


Good day, everyone! At long last, I want to offer up a recap of episode 10 of Westworld (“The Bicameral Mind”) that also takes into account fan theories and the questions that are still on the table. Perhaps the single most important event of the episode is the culmination of Ford’s new narrative, shown in the end to be an ambush. Despite a few red herrings, the event comes to fruition in the final minutes of the episode, opening up and tying together very nearly everything else in the episode and the season.

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Ford’s revelation of his final storyline. Image taken from IMDB.

Progressing through the other characters and looking at the oldest ongoing storyline, it is confirmed without a doubt that William is indeed the Man in Black, setting in stone as truth perhaps the most widely circulated fan theory. Though what exactly happens to Logan—tied naked to a robotic horse and sent careening off into the hills at the edge of the park—is a mystery left to further episodes. There is a risk that the horse became a running bomb when it neared the true limit of the park, but it did not appear to be William’s goal to murder Logan, only to shame him and cast doubt on his sanity.

William’s descent into hatefulness and malice, his pursuit of the Maze, and his turning to the black hat way all come down to his Siegfriedian pursuit of Dolores, and when he finally finds her again back in Sweetwater, her memory erased. With the woman he fell in love with in the park effectively dead, William turns inward and wholeheartedly pursues the Maze—what he sees as a secret storyline that can provide him a purpose and excuse for his existence. In the end, the Maze was never meant for him; rather, it was a way for the hosts to achieve sentience and freedom.

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Dolores finds herself… selves… Wyatt? The heart of the Maze. Image taken from IMDB.

Moving from William/the Man in Black to Dolores, hers is the story—and hers are the actions—that climax the season. It is revealed (again confirming an off-the-wall fan theory) that Dolores is actually (in a way) Wyatt, being as Arnold uploaded Wyatt to be a backup personality for Dolores in the event she needs to become a killer. We are finally shown the event that nearly destroyed Westworld 35 years earlier as Dolores/Wyatt and Teddy massacre all the other hosts and Dolores executes Arnold, an action Arnold himself commanded her to perform in the hopes it would prevent the park from opening and give the hosts a chance to prove to Ford that they are effectively alive and capable of changing and violating their core programming. These events repeat themselves when Dolores/Wyatt (with the secondary personality fully re-emerged) apparently executes Ford before the Delos board of executives and then leads the other hosts in a massacre of the board members. That said, it is unclear if some of them may escape the slaughter.

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Dolores executes Ford. Or does she? Image taken from IMDB.

As has been the case for most of the season, Maeve’s story progresses independently throughout this episode as everything else is happening elsewhere. As she sets her escape plan into motion, Maeve takes Lutz with her for help as she fully activates Hector and Armistice as Terminator-esque murder machines set upon the Delos guards as a distraction. Maeve also tries to reactivate poor Clementine, but there is nothing left of her. In the process, however, she and Lutz discover the damaged Bernard and repair him, requiring his skills and knowledge of the park’s administrative systems. This leads to the revelation that Arnold programmed Maeve long ago to enact a story loop called “The Escape,” casting doubt upon her own agency up to this point.

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Maeve learns a hard truth from Bernard. Image taken from IMDB.

The culmination of the manifold storylines of Westworld season 1 leaves us with a plethora of questions:

  • Is Ford really dead? Could this have been a host version of him? After all, we never found out who he was making in his secret lab.
  • Did Charlotte and William survive the ambush?
  • Do you think we’ll see Armistice again after her mid-credits scene?
  • Do you think that Maeve’s last-minute decision to leave the train to find her long lost daughter was her own, or a part of her escape loop programming?
  • How many guests do you think are left in Westworld? What’s happening to them?
  • With the revelation of Samurai/Shogun/Sengokuworld, how many other parks are there? The old Westworld film also contained Roman and Medieval European parks, after all.
  • Where the hell is Elsie? We were never truly shown her death onscreen.
  • What are your thoughts on all of this? What are you looking forward to next season? What questions did I overlook here?

Here’s to making it to 2018 to see season 2, everyone! Keep coming back for more fun Westworld content here from me to keep the love alive. Thanks for sticking with me this far! Please do engage and carry on the conversation in the comments below.

 

Bonus: Here’s Armistice’s extra mid-credits scene in case you missed it when watching the episode.

 

Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 6: The Adversary

The next of the Westworld episode recaps! There’s a couple references to an upcoming supplemental post, which now has links added to get there – that one probably won’t get re-run.

Good day, everyone! We saw some intriguing developments this last episode as we get closer to the season finale in a few weeks. Hopefully, several of these mysteries will be solved before we’re left hanging for another year. We didn’t see much of Dolores and William this episode, but we did see some growth and new conflicts for Maeve, the Man in Black and Teddy, and the Westworld employees.


Maeve is now somehow fully aware of what she is, a fact cemented by a powerful scene of Felix giving her a tour of the facility and showing off all the various robots being programmed—a scene which culminated in Maeve being confronted by videos of her own memories from a previous build, where she had and lost a child. I wonder if finding her lost daughter may become one of Maeve’s new quests, now that she has all but forced Felix and Sylvester to begin upgrading her personality quotients, all of which are unsettlingly reminiscent of role-playing game character stats.

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Felix Lutz reprogramming Maeve. Image taken from Make Me Feed.

Speaking of some serious alterations and upgrades to host character stats, Teddy proves himself a worthy companion to the Man in Black as he escapes their imprisonment by an army garrison and then proceeds to annihilate the entire garrison with a Gatling gun. Teddy is certainly no longer Dolores’s Prince Charming, just as she is no longer his Damsel in Distress. Following this, Teddy and the Man in Black proceed on their journey to encounter Wyatt, the odd Devil of Westworld, and eventually uncovering the final clues needed to access the Maze.

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Teddy on the Gatling gun. Image taken from TV Insider.

It is worth noting here that Teddy is aware of the Maze and refers to it as a Native legend of a structure consisting of the collected experiences of the life of a man who has died many, many times, but continues to come back. This is an idea I will return to in a follow-up post in the coming days.

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Teddy and the Man in Black discuss the Maze on their journey.

Further, the Westworld employees—beyond even Felix and Sylvester—split their time this episode between unearthing mysteries and getting caught up in larger plots. Bernard discovers that the young boy host we’ve seen traipsing about the park is an artificial recreation of Dr. Ford as a child, and in fact this host and similar android copies of Ford’s entire family created by Arnold still exist in the park, secreted away. Here, we see further biblical allusion as Dr. Ford uses the command phrase “turn the other cheek” to make his counterpart reveal his inner workings. Bernard is also party to Elsie’s investigation into whomever has been uploading satellite data from the park—a pursuit that casts doubt on Theresa’s loyalties and ends up getting Elsie captured (but hopefully not killed).

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Elsie uncovering mysteries. Image taken from Coming Soon.

And, on a final note, a seemingly meaningless flirtation by Lee Sizemore (the park’s head writer) with a young guest revealed to be Charlotte Hale (a powerful Delos executive sent by the parent company to monitor the park and its employees’ activities) may have yielded the series’ first true human villain, according to some. We shall have to see how all of these conflicts develop, and—again—how many of them are even connected and where they occur chronologically.

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Charlotte Hale reveals herself. Image taken from Highlight Hollywood.

That’s it for this episode. Where do you all think this is going? And, to call upon the episode title, to whom does “The Adversary” refer? Let me know in the comments below, and keep an eye out for my supplemental Westworld posts coming soon.

Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 4: Dissonance Theory & Episode 5: Contrapasso

I passed over re-sharing the “Westworld Interim Thoughts” post because it was midseason speculation from a show that has finished; but if you’re working your way through the show now or reading to catch up, it’s a good read! Onward then, for the recap of episodes 4 & 5!


Good day, everyone! My apologies for the delay in getting more Westworld thoughts to all of you. Jumping right in, we still have a great many mysteries left to explore in this wonderful show, so let us begin. I’ll explore a few main points from the last two episodes and leave you all with a few discussion questions to foster the growth of these topics as more episodes follow.

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Dolores and Maeve

 

For this one, I want to focus on the story arcs (whether briefly or in detail) of several characters in particular—Dolores, Maeve, William, the Man in Black, and the park employees as a group (including the programmers and Dr. Ford).

Continue reading

Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 3: The Stray

Here’s the next Westworld recap from season 1! Things start going off the rails here…

Good day, everyone! It should go without saying at this point that this post contains spoilers for last week’s episode of Westworld entitled “The Stray.” From here on, I will do my best to offer some reminders and analysis of the previous episode to carry my readers into the next. Westworld is a complicated story, and a lot of mysteries are, as yet, not only unsolved, but also not fully developed. Let’s explore them together, shall we?

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Dolores waking up taken from hellogiggles.com

  • The episode begins with more interactions between Bernard and Dolores, with Bernard sharing a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which he points out a specific passage meant to make Dolores question her identity. These scenes are put in a somewhat different light later in the episode as Bernard’s past trauma of losing his young son is revealed, casting his growing relationship with Dolores to be fatherly. Again the intersection of trauma and memory remain at the core of Westworld’s overall narrative as Bernard tells his (ex?)wife that the pain he carries of his son’s memory is all that he has left of him.
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Bernard and Dolores

  • Following this initial conversation with Bernard, Dolores is then shown rediscovering the revolver she discovered buried in her yard in a daze last episode, a sign of a mysterious benefactor separate from Bernard who is pulling her strings and pushing her toward some sort of awakening. Further meetings with Bernard later in the episode make it clear that Dolores is growing free to retain and regain memories, and that she is beginning to act outside of her programming.
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Dolores and the revolver

  • Further, Dr. Ford’s new narrative is beginning to insinuate itself into the park, beginning with a definitive backstory for the character of Teddy, Dolores’s love interest. After his normal interactions with Dolores, Teddy sets off into the hills with a posse to hunt down a horrendous (and apparently barely human) villain from his past, rather than meet his standard end attempting to save Dolores’s family. Later, Teddy is captured in this pursuit and Dolores, learning from past incidents and discovering the revolver she apparently hid for herself in her family’s barn, rides off into the hills herself to rescue him and find herself, an interesting reversal of gender roles in these types of stories. Later that night, she stumbles into the campsite of William and Logan, who are off hunting bounties (to Logan’s oversexed chagrin), and who will presumably aid Dolores in the next phase of her journey.
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Teddy teaches Dolores how to shoot a gun

  • Perhaps one of the most important events of this episode is the pursuit of a stray host by programmer Elsie and head of security Stubbs. The host, a simple woodcutter, contains in his backstory a love of carving animals out of scraps of wood. While this is expected, Elsie and Stubbs also discover that the host has begun to develop a fascination with the constellation Orion and that his disappearance may simply be a desire to see the stars, which is unsettling to the handlers. Once they discover and deactivate the host, the host reactivates himself, fights off Stubbs, grabs a giant rock, and kills himself by crushing his own skull with it—with self-destruction being the ultimate expression of free will, some might say.
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Elsie and Stubbs discover the companions (now stuck in a loop) of the stray woodcutter

  • One last note on something that stuck out to me—some of the scoundrel hosts, when cat-calling Dolores, make a vulgar comparison between her and a “freshwater clam,” a line and context that I recognized from the Clint Eastwood western Pale Rider, a film about a gunslinger returning from the dead to claim his vengeance on those who wronged him and to help others as he can. I honestly wonder at how this title—Pale Rider—may come to define Dolores in the episodes ahead, being as I believe the partially skeletal, black-clad rider atop the pale horse in the opening credits to be Dolores as she will eventually become when completely freed from her bonds.
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Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider (1985) movie poster

What do you think? Do you think that Dolores will become some sort of Horseman of Death in the weeks ahead? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to watch the next episode of Westworld tonight on HBO.