Last episode checked in with every major character to show the results of the first season’s cliffhanger, the status of the park with no humans in control. This one is concerned mainly with Dolores and William, giving their stories plenty of time to develop.
Seems like they’ll need it! I thought the mystery this season belonged to Bernard, but Dolores’s past still has secrets to reveal. Before we were companions on her journey, learning new information and trying to make sense of it as she did, but now Dolores knows where she’s going and we follow. She’s the one orchestrating new revelations now.
First she needs to get Teddy clued in, so she takes him behind the curtain and forces the tech guy to show him all the times he’s been hurt and killed. In maybe his best scene of the series, James Marsden conveys how deeply this disturbs Teddy. He was programmed to be a standard white hat, who believes in justice and truth, ideals bigger than himself. There is little truth in Westworld, and no justice. This revelation shakes the whole world as he sees it, not merely his sense of self.
Next Dolores and Angela interrogate a security staffer to find out what they’ll be up against. Eight hundred troops, when they have fewer than fifty: time to go recruitin’. Dolores aims to get the entire Confederados army following her, for a start.
At a chance encounter, Dolores tries to enlist Maeve, but she won’t have it. “Revenge is just a different prayer at their altar, and I’m well off my knees.” Forgive me for putting on my meta-prognostication cap, but this probably means that Maeve will eventually join the rebellion; otherwise there’s no reason we need to see this encounter.
William in Black also seeks allies, with markedly less success. He saved his favorite sidekick Lawrence from a grisly death, but his attempt to get Alonzo (Giancarlo Esposito, hooray!) and the bandits of Pariah on his side ends in mass suicide and another of Ford’s messages from beyond the grave. “Fuck you, Robert!”
Young William’s story concerns how he engineered the Delos takeover of the park and what purposes he’s put it to since. In classic Westworld style, this is shown elliptically, coyly: When representatives of “the Argos Initiative” (Zahn McClarnon, hooray!) approach Delos, they meet with Logan first. That meeting convinced him to visit the park, the visit during which William leveled up and humiliated Logan. The next time we see young William, he’s pitching a bigger investment to Dad Delos (played with verve by Peter Mullan), with Logan nowhere to be seen. (At James Delos’s retirement party, we learn that Logan has taken his loss of status hard, becoming a bitter drug addict.)
What has William been doing with Westworld? We know that Delos has been compiling guests’ data without their knowledge, which is what made the park profitable enough to survive, but several characters have intimated that’s merely a means to an end. What end? What is the ultimate purpose of the host technology?
There’s nothing in this hour that gives away the game, but as ever there are hints. When asked about stepping down as head of Delos, James says, “I was told I might not have to,” with a little cough. Which implies he was told he wouldn’t have to worry about declining health and old age. I reckon one of Delos’s goals is human immortality in host bodies. This could be what William in Black meant when he told Alonzo, “If we reach it, I’ll show you a treasure beyond all your wildest dreams.” But William also says the park is the site of his greatest mistake. I haven’t the faintest idea what that could be.
I bet Dolores knows. But she ain’t telling much yet. She told Teddy that “glory” or “the valley beyond” isn’t a place; it’s a weapon that William showed her long ago. Well, those are dumb names for a weapon, but perhaps the religious allusions will make sense when we know more.