Title: Westworld: “The Bicameral Mind” Review
Air Date: December 3, 2016
Check out our reviews of previous episodes of Westworld:
- Episode 1: The Original
- Episode 2: Chestnut
- Episode 3: The Stray
- Episode 4: Dissonance Theory
- Episode 5: Contrapasso
- Episode 6: The Adversary
- Episode 7: Trompe L’Oeil
- Episode 8: Trace Decay
- Episode 9: The Well-Tempered Clavier
That’s how you end a season. Westworld came out in its final episode with all guns blazing, hitting some great plot beats and letting plenty of questions go unanswered as we wait for the next season to begin. We have ninety minutes of “The Bicameral Mind” to unpack, so let’s see what the end of season one brought us.
For beings such a lengthy episode, Westworld‘s season finale was remarkably focused. We basically concentrated on a select few storylines (Ford’s new narrative and removal from the park, Dolores and the Man in Black, and Maeve’s escape), and we got plenty of payoff to make it all worthwhile. Even still, the finale did a great job of leaving open ideas about where the show could go next season (ummm… can we please visit Samuraiworld?) that it kept us all wanting to come back for more.
Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) storyline has been the most captivating all season, so it’s only fitting that hers was the biggest smokescreen that Westworld has given us. Maeve was seemingly caught in yet another story loop, as Arnold had been pulling her strings and had been manipulating her “rebellion” all along. It seemed obvious that there was more to it than meets the eye, but Maeve’s story is seemingly supposed to wind up with her achieving self-awareness and escaping the park. Just how many layers does Ford’s narrative have?
Even after learning it was all part of the illusion, Maeve’s breakout was fun to watch. Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) dressed in a technician’s gear and wielding a P90 was a blast to watch, and seeing the hosts “awaken” and fight back was excellent after a season of helplessness. However, it further added to the speculation that maybe every worker is a host because Maeve’s escape seemed a little too easy. Her decision to reenter the park was a good character beat as well because it reminds us that every host has a single driving factor. Maeve’s desire to get her child back overrides everything she has done to escape the park.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) also got some semblance of clarification, as well as the most popular fan theory left also getting a thumbs up. We were all correct: William (Jimmi Simpson) is the Man in Black (Ed Harris). The episode built it up in a few obvious ways (did you see how William was leading his former friend Logan around in his search for Dolores?), but we finally got the true confirmation that William and the Man in Black are one in the same.
William’s experience with Logan (Ben Barnes) did not go well. It apparently drove him insane, and he became obsessed with the idea of figuring out the park. He made massive amounts of money (most likely by killing Logan and claiming his stake in Delos), became the majority stockholder in things, and has spent the majority of his time in trying to solve the mysteries of the park. The slowburn reveal of William actually being the Man in Black was very reminiscent of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) being a host: very few episodes seem like they are trying to trick you. Westworld is more about the way the players react to revelations than how the audience responds.
Ultimately, everything played into Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) final reveal. His new narrative was introduced as a groundbreaking endeavor for the park, as hosts broke from their traditional roles in order to fulfill some entirely new endgame. It was fitting that his narrative was called “Journey Into Night,” as the power in Westworld‘s headquarters started failing as he was introducing things. Everything culminated in Dolores shooting Ford and several board members, just as she did years ago when “Wyatt” (who is obviously Dolores herself) and Teddy massacred the town. How this will play into Ford’s ultimate plan (and the board’s attempts to stop him) remain to be seen in season two.
Overall, a great episode of Westworld and a great ending to a complicated season. “The Bicameral Mind” gave us much to consider and many theories to discuss as it moves forward. The ultimate question becomes this: what’s next? The uprising is happening, Ford is dead, the park is in disarray. Is next season just going to showcase the chaos? With Ford dead, is Bernard in charge? Or is Ford just another host as well, ready to join back in as a new individual entirely? We have a while to wait (season two is not scheduled to air until 2018), but the season finale of Westworld showed that this show has some serious chops for us to deal with. Just remember: these violent delights have violent ends.
And hopefully, we get to go to Samuraiworld (or maybe Southworld) soon.
- Good information reveals for important storylines
- Lots of fun questions left over
- Excellent acting all-around
- Plenty of mystery
- Well done reveals of things we already knew