Title: Westworld: “The Passenger”
Air Date: June 24, 2018
Check out our reviews of previous episodes from season two here:
- Episode 1: “Journey Into Night”
- Episode 2: “Reunion”
- Episode 3: “Virtù e Fortuna”
- Episode 4: “The Riddle of the Sphinx”
- Episode 5: “Akane no Mai”
- Episode 6: “Phase Space”
- Episode 7: “Les Ecorches”
- Episode 8: “Kiksuya”
- Episode 9: “Vanishing Point”
Westworld had an awful lot to do in its supersized finale, and it bit off an extra half hour in order to try to work it all in. There is an awful lot to talk about from tonight’s season finale, “The Passenger,” so let’s jump right to it. First thing’s first: did it work?
Yeah, for the most part. As of late, Westworld has felt a bit like it was starting to collapse under its own weight. “The Passenger” actually did a pretty good job of bringing everything together and satisfying most of the major storylines this season has been working towards. Not everything worked, and some transitions were a bit clunky/confusing, but it was a pretty deft bit of story telling considering just how big the various Westworld arcs have gotten.
Therefore, let’s break down the finale by talking about the individual characters and where their arcs wound up. Starting with…
Maeve used her new powers to save the hosts of Westworld
Thandie Newton has been a powerhouse during both seasons of the show as Maeve, but she has felt like she’s been treading water a bit as a character. “The Passenger” didn’t do a ton to alleviate that, but she did get some closure for her arc. She used her newfound powers to help guide her daughter, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), and several other characters through the fabled “door,” a hidden, offsite server that is a brand new world the hosts can live in and make their own. We also finally got the stampede payoff from the season’s trailers, as she took out a soldier team with a herd of rampaging beasts!
And it’s a good thing she had those new powers unlocked by Ford (Anthony Hopkins), as Delos was using Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) as a walking computer virus. She was the literal “Rider on the Pale Horse,” infecting every host within proximity with a brutal bit of code that made them violently attack anyone around them. As Maeve’s companions died one by one, she mustered all her strength to freeze the hosts that were attacking one another so the people she cared about could escape. She was then gunned down by the Delos mercenaries, and we see her corpse at the end of the episode. Sadly, she’s done for.
But this is Westworld! She could always come back: her two technician friends definitely made it out alive, and they seem keen and bringing back their friend and leader.
William is actually the Host in Black
After last week’s episode, more and more hints seemed to point at the idea that the Man in Black (Ed Harris) was actually a host. This week, that was moderately confirmed – William is a host in some timeline, but as to when that happens we do not yet know.
To me, the first big scene of tonight’s finale was William squaring off with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). It seemed obvious that his first shot would not finish her off, but watching him fire off round after round while she just shrugged off his bullets was a bit… unnerving. And the scene where she seemingly overloaded his gun (or just got really, really lucky) and it blew his damn hand off was satisfying and brutal.
William’s continued survival and ability to shrug off superhuman amounts of pain and bodily harm further hinted at the fact that he was not quite human, and his entrance into the Forge in the post-credits scene finally paid that off. However, his encounter with Emily (Katja Herbers), who was running him through a fidelity test just like we’ve seen with James Delos (Peter Mullan) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) obviously was occurring long after the timeline of the episode, so we still don’t know exactly when the swap from human to host happened.
Hale, like much of Westworld, is not what she seems
That’s not to say the real Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) isn’t awful, as she proved by ruthlessly gunning down Elsie (Shannon Woodward). It’s to say that the Hale we thought we’ve known in one timeline is actually Dolores’ control unit hidden inside a perfect recreation of Hale’s body, and Bernard had been scrambling his memories so as to hide what he had done from any prying minds from Delos. Having the mind behind the host uprising hidden inside the body of one of the most powerful people in the Delos corporation is a scary concept as we move to the third season of Westworld, especially with the reveal at the very end that Dolores has her own body back, but the Hale host is still there. Is she just a drone? Or did Dolores slam some other host’s brain in there?
Dolores and Bernard are now outside of the confines of Westworld
After Bernard stopped Dolores from destroying the Forge, as well as the “safe haven” that had been created for the remaining hosts, he realized that humanity could not be trusted. By creating the Hale/Dolores host, he ensured that Dolores could escape to the real world, and she later recreated him out there as well. This seems to indicate that the next season of Westworld will no longer take place inside the park, but will now deal with the hosts’ free will in the outside world.
Honestly, the Dolores/Bernard storyline was the hardest to follow in the episode, and it also did the majority of the heavy lifting. Again, most of it worked, but there were some moments that seemed just a little too convenient, and the timeline of the show is practically impossible to follow at this point. We’ve seen so many versions of Bernard in so many different timelines, we know there are multiple versions of Bernard (possibly) running around, and we know he sometimes sees things that aren’t happening in his current timeline. All these things add up to making it practically impossible to decipher just where and when Bernard is, and his explanation of “I’m scrambling my own memories to throw Delos off” works, but it doesn’t make it any easier for the audience.
Various odds and ends
- The bits inside the database of the Forge were very fascinating and probably need a second viewing. Logan (Ben Barnes) acting as the “caretaker” of the records, the explanation that humanity is actually pretty simple to decode, the reveal that our brain patterns are the music from the player piano… It was some heady stuff, and it came at us really fast. There is probably a lot in there that has meaning.
- The Ghost Nation ultimately taking care of everyone and leading them to safety was a nice touch, despite the fact that taking down Clementine earlier should have seemed a priority to everyone.
- Who all does Dolores/Hale have in her purse as she leaves the park? Five CPU units, and one is obviously Bernard. Her dad seems likely, but who else has she got?
- I sort of get her explanation… but why did Dolores bring Bernard back if she knows he’s just going to try to stop her? Especially because he’s the only one who seemingly knows that Hale is a host…
- Except for Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who also seems to have answered the question many have been wondering. He clearly knew Hale was a host (and probably that it was actually Dolores in there), and he also dropped some serious indications that he, himself, is a host.
- It was great to see Lee (Simon Quarterman) finally get to give one of his speeches. His sacrifice was an extremely clumsy redemption, however. It seems like he could have bought them just as much time to escape had he “come out with his hands up” and woven some story about needing a rescue. I guess we needed a body count.
- Who all died? Maeve, Lee Sizemore, Charlotte Hale (though she’s back as a host), Hector, Armistice (the snake tattoo woman), the Shogun World version of Armistice whose name I cannot recall, Clementine, Dolores (but she’s back), Bernard (but he’s back), Karl Strand and the Delos mercenary team, Robert Ford, Elsie, about 200 random hosts infected by Clementine’s rage virus. So… lots.
The season two finale felt like a bit of a reset button, as the ideas and characters on Westworld had gotten a bit to big for the park. It will be interesting to see where the show tries to go now that the hosts are out in our world. Hopefully Westworld can maintain its intrigue now that it continues to get even bigger.
Verdict: This season’s finale was not quite as strong as last year’s, even though it tried to be bigger and bolder in every way. It did do an admirable job of reigning in most of its bloated storylines, and killing off a lot of characters hopefully means the show can bring its focus back. After a season where the best episodes (“Kiksuya” being the standout) where the smaller-scale, character-driven stories were the most effective, it would be nice to see Westworld pull things back a bit and be a bit less bombastic. That said, it appears the show is only going to get larger.
- Excellent acting and cinematography
- Did a good job of tying up huge plotlines
- Good payoffs and callbacks
- A bit too big and convoluted for its own good
- Some all-too-convenient moments