Title: Westworld: “Phase Space”
Air Date: May 27, 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”
The last few episodes of Westworld have been pretty exhausting. Two weeks ago, “The Riddle of the Sphinx” showed us a Sisyphean hell, with the mind of James Delos (Peter Mullan) never quite figuring things out and being incinerated dozens of times. Last week, “Akane no Mai” gave us a distinctly stylish episode, finally treating us to the teased Shogun World and giving us several brilliant action scenes to boot. This week felt like a “let’s kick off the second half of the season” episode; it wasn’t bad, but it essentially served as a setup episode for what is on the way in the coming four episodes.
One thing that made the episode not quite work like the others from season two was the lack of focus. Most every episode in this season of Westworld has focused on two central characters, with maybe a few check-ins elsewhere. “Phase Space” was all over the map – we got Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her crew, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and the newly-modified Teddy (James Marsden), Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), the Man in Black (Ed Harris), Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Akane (Rinko Kikuchi), and a few other side stories. It made it tough to get invested in anyone storyline or focus enough to feel the stakes.
That’s not to say there weren’t some important happenings in “Phase Space.” Westworld rewards close attention, and the opener in this episode, with Bernard and Dolores, gave us pause and made us rethink every “interview” sequence that has happened between the two. When Dolores took over her conversation with Bernard, correcting him and telling him that the conversation was for fidelity, it was a scary throwback to the sad fate of James Delos. William (Jimmi Simpson) used the same word to qualify their own discussion, and it altered a repeated scene that has been happening in Westworld since the very beginning. It begs the question: just how much of the show so far has seen Dolores in complete control?
Speaking of Dolores in control, we also got to see the monster she created in Teddy. He’s very aware of what she did to his programming, but he does not seem to care – unleashed Teddy is ruthless and angry. I’m a big fan. James Marsden’s talents have been underutilized so far in Westworld, and I’m glad we’ll get to see him flex a bit as the awakened Teddy. There were also some hints dropped in the “next week on…” portion that may indicate that Teddy may not be down for the count, even though we’ve seen him dead a few times now in the timeline two weeks after the host uprising.
Maeve got to showcase that, once again, she is not Dolores. She could have forced her new companions from Shogun World to follow her, but she gave them the choice instead. Westworld better not deny us the Dolores/Maeve showdown that we seem to be building towards, because it’ll be fun to watch the relentless, power-hungry Dolores try to cope with the omnipotent former madame. Especially now that Maeve’s daughter has been programmed to identify someone else as her mother, Maeve may have nothing left to lose.
Speaking of powerful women, William’s daughter, Emily (Katja Herbers) got to flesh herself out a bit this week too. William seems pretty convinced that she is a host, especially after her recollection of a visit to the park together differed from his. William doesn’t seem like the type who knows his daughter that well, but he also does not seem like the time to forget significant details. Keep an eye out on Emily.
Yes, this recap is all over the place, but so was this episode. You barely got to catch your breath and figure out where you were before you were whisked away elsewhere. Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) met the new, scarier mercenaries that Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) brought in. Musashi regained his honor in a pretty badass sword fight – one that took place during the day, so you could actually see it this week! The train reached the tunnel beneath the mesa and exploded. There was an awful lot, but nothing seemed quite as important as Bernard and Elsie finding the cradle.
The cradle was essentially a central hub that seems to be controlling Westworld and, importantly, fighting off any attempt to cure the liberated hosts. When Bernard plugged himself in, he was transported back to the Sweetwater that we’ve seen several times – the opening arrival scene where new guests show up. As he walks through the streets, noticing Dolores, Teddy (original looking versions, not as they’ve been transformed), He follows a familiar-looking dog into the saloon. Sitting at the player piano is none other than Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) himself, who seems just as pleased as punch that Bernard has joined him.
Bernard’s wandering through the untouched version of Westworld was an effective scene (the aspect ratio even changed from the rest of the episode, giving it a cinematic feel), and it was nice that the show stopped teasing us with Ford and actually gave us Anthony Hopkins again. However, we are still a bit in the dark as to what his actual plan is with the cradle, what Dolores’ plan in blowing up the Delos HQ is, or what the Man in Black’s ultimate purpose is. Again, “Phase Space” was a bit all over the place, and it made it tough to focus on one particular aspect. We got ourselves a bunch more questions, however, and the second half of the season to answer them.
Verdict: We got to see familiar hosts in unfamiliar roles, and we advanced everyone’s story a bit. However, “Phase Space” felt very much like a setting the table episode. Hopefully we get a bit more of a main course next week.
- Badass Teddy is best Teddy
- Ford's return
- New twist on characters
- Lacked focus
- Tough to keep track of different storylines