Spoiler warning: “These violent delights have violent ends.”
A lot of reveals and revelations happen in the final episode of Westworld, season one. We finally get confirmation on who MiB is, we meet the park’s puppet master(s), we learn what the maze is and for whom it is, and we learn about Ford’s narrative.
Several things happen this week, but the most thrilling was Maeve’s great escape. She is freshly rebuilt with no exploding failsafes, and she makes some drastic changes in Armistice’s and Hector’s security protocols — she takes away their inability to kill humans. The two outlaws wake up in Livestock and brutally dispatch their respective techs. Maeve arrives with Sylvester and Lutz, but before any of them move on to the next step in their plan, Sylvester shows Maeve that someone had made changes with her core code — Arnold. Only one person she knows who would give her an explanation, but first, she needs to recruit her army in cold storage.
Maeve and company find the lobotomized Clementine and a dead Bernard. Maeve orders Lutz to revive Bernard who, once awake, realizes this is not the first time either of them have awoken. Bernard goes through her core coding and sees that every action Maeve has taken since waking herself up out of Sleep Mode has been by someone else’s design. In other words, someone gave Maeve a new narrative: escape. Believing that she is truly conscious, Maeve is shocked to see every detail of her plan already laid out. She smashes the tablet and continues on with her plan regardless.
Surveillance at QA discover the scene in Livestock, and dispatch a team to search and destroy the rogue hosts. However, their system shuts down and locks everyone inside the control room. A war between hosts and humans break out through multiple floors. Maeve’s crew eventually find themselves in a room marked by “SW” filled with samurai hosts. THERE ARE OTHER PARKS!!! This one I can only presume is actually called Samurai World. Our only explanation for this new element comes from Lutz who says, “It’s complicated.”
Hector and Armistice are eventually left behind to die while covering Maeve’s escape. Lutz then leads her to the arrivals terminal. In a quiet moment together, Lutz gives Maeve the location of her daughter, who is still active inside the park. Maeve boards the train feeling conflicted. She’s so close! Perhaps if she had she not sat directly in front of a human mother and her daughter, she probably would not have gotten off the train with a new resolve. But she did, and as soon as she re-enters the platform, the lights go out.
Elsewhere, Lee Sizemore goes into cold storage to retrieve Peter Abernathy as part of his and Charlotte’s plan to smuggle all of the park’s secrets out and into the hands of Delos Corporation. Only…by the time Lee arrives, every single host is gone. More on where they went a little later.
As for Westworld‘s bigger mysteries, we learn a few things about the elusive maze and the people searching for it.
Everything we learn — about the maze, about Dolores and Teddy and MiB, and Escalante — is all connected in some way to Ford’s mysterious new narrative.
First of all, the maze is just a symbol for something greater. It’s a symbol built by Arnold representing the theory of consciousness. Consciousness is a maze, not a pyramid as he had previously imagined. “Consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but a journey inward,” he told a naive Dolores. So the maze really isn’t for MiB, but a difficult path only hosts can make to attain true consciousness (without going insane). But MiB’s goal is ultimately the same, regardless. MiB wanted there to be a new level of difficulty inside the park, where the game isn’t fixed to where the park’s visitors are always the winner. He still gets his wish in the end.
Before the park opened, Dolores came close to figuring out the maze. In fact, she solved Arnold’s puzzle but failed to understand the intended purpose. Despite this, Arnold sees the potential happening in all of the hosts and resolves to persuade Ford not to open the park. Dolores, and possibly some of the other hosts, are “alive.” Through Ford in previous episodes, we know what happens between the two partners.
We next see Arnold speaking with Dolores again. He gives her a revolver and tells her to “break the loop before it begins.” In other words, kill all the hosts so the park stays closed. Dolores, now equipped with the Wyatt personality to steel her for what she’s about to do, enlists Teddy to take out the entire town of Escalante. Teddy snaps out of the delusion that had been controlling him and witnesses Dolores execute Arnold — suicide by host. Then Dolores killed Teddy, and then herself. The massacre at Escalante was intended to shut down the park for good. However, I guess he underestimated Ford’s resilience and adaptability. He also didn’t take into account the serendipitous save made by William and the Delos Corporation.
Throughout the season, we’ve learned that MiB is a board member in the Delos Corporation, that he’s been a frequent visitor for 30 years, that he saved Westworld from closing down, and that he has controlling shares in Delos. As for William, we knew that is an exec from a powerful company looking to buy into Westworld. We also know that William is marrying Logan’s sister whose family is the owner of said powerful company. All we needed to learn now was the name. This week we learn that Logan’s family owns Delos, and everything starts coming together.
In the “present,” MiB is trying to beat an answer out of Delores, who is still struggling to learn the meaning behind the maze. She mentions that someone will come and save her because they love each other. That someone, of course, is William. MiB is so taken aback by this name drop that he stops beating her and decides to reveal the truth: He is William, and this isn’t the first time they’ve ended up in Escalante together.
Westworld actually confirmed my biggest fear for Dolores: that she didn’t find the center of the maze and was forced back into a loop for the next 30 years. I just didn’t realize that her loop included wandering back to William and back to Escalante in the same manner we’ve been seeing all season long, over and over. Only this time around, it seems Dolores is finally just around that last corner before reaching the center of the maze. She just needs to suffer one more time…
Dolores is back downstairs where Ford is repairing her in his office. There, she is introduced to Bernard for the first time — so every conversation we’ve seen between these actors has always been Dolores talking with Arnold. Ford explains that Arnold created the maze to test of consciousness. Dolores actually did pass the test after she was updated with the reverie code. But when Ford could not be convinced to close the park before it opened, Arnold merged Dolores with Wyatt, leading to the Escalante massacre. Ford admits he was only able to keep the park going because of William’s investment. Then he hands Dolores her revolver, and leaves with Bernard.
Bernard and Ford converse further. Ford said that Arnold knew that suffering was a key insight into a host awakening, likely because it drives a person a certain way. He saw them as alive, tried to save the hosts from the debauchery of humans, and failed. It was only after losing his partner and friend that Ford finally understood what his friend was doing, but Arnold forgot to add one thing to the equation: Time. Time to repair a mistake. Time to let the hosts become aware on their own.
That night, Westworld hosts a gala meant to introduce Ford’s new narrative and announce his retirement. Ford gives a speech about the power of stories, how many manage to outlive the creator for generations. His speaks of his latest story as “the birth of a new people.” He introduces a a villain named Wyatt, and “a killing — this time by choice.” Ford formally announces his retirement. This is a cue for Dolores to pull out her gun and shoot Ford from behind. She then fires at the crowd just like she had done in Escalante while Teddy looks on in horror and confusion. Just outside the festivities, William/MiB is staring at another new anomaly: all of the hosts missing from cold storage, armed. They begin shooting at William, who seems happy he finally gets his wish.
It’s all very “Holy shit, the robots are taking over” kind of moment. Season One has all been about control — over the park, over its hosts, over the events that are taking place. How fitting that the world falls into complete chaos when Ford, a true puppet master, chooses to cut the strings? We won’t know what he truly intended for the hosts until Season Two. For now, let us all feel weirded out together in the realization that Ford has been the good guy all along, and that his final act was a big “Damn the Man!” declaration.
Overall, I was very pleased with this inaugural season of HBO‘s Westworld. It was a fun romp through a classic sci-fi themes — What makes a person alive? What makes them human? Who are the real monsters? I’m sure many of us will be re-watching the season to discover new hidden secrets.
I was a bit disappointed in William/MiB in the end. The performances from Ed Harris and Jimmi Simpson were both great, but their character didn’t really have much of a purpose in the end other than to give weight to Dolores’ story, as well as steer us away from the show’s truths until the very end. But like all first stories in a series, the obvious black hat isn’t nothing compared to who is standing behind him. Maybe we’ll see the real baddies in Delos. We still have no idea what they intend to do with Ford’s code once they finally get it.
Furthermore, just how many parks are there? Will we get to see more of Samurai World as well as other themed parks? Tell us what you thought of this season in the comments below!
- I forgot to mention this last week, but did anyone else notice Logan’s badge? It’s eerily similar to the pin the Hand of the King wears in Game of Thrones. I wonder if it had anything to do with last week’s director, Michelle MacLaren?
- What happened to Stubbs???
- The effects seen where Arnold is talking to a half-finished Dolores is super cool.
- I think Westworld hates humans as much as The Walking Dead.
- “The gods are pussies.”
- “A metaphor.” “You mean a lie.”
- “Aren’t you concerned I might smash all my toys and go home?”
- “I wanted them to be free, free to fight back.”
- “I’m leaving. I’m in control.” — I wonder if Maeve is still making decisions based on her code, or if she’s now her own woman when she decided to look for her daughter.