Westworld has always exuded a sympathetic theme towards the hosts throughout its two season run. Humans use hosts to achieve whatever evil desires fester in their souls, and hosts have it placed in their programming to remember all that pain and suffering.
But “The Passenger,” the finale to Westworld’s second season, took that thinking one step further. Humans aren’t just evil and hell-bent on using the hosts for their carnal pleasures. Humans are capable of nothing else.
I don’t know if this feeling is limited to just Westworld or if it’s a greater critique on our human society in general, but Sunday night revealed that humans as presented by the show runners of Westworld are incapable of choice. No matter what changes you make to them, they will make the same decision in life every time they are presented with that situation. Logan used the very host-like phrase “in their programming” to describe the simplistic, 10,000 word long books that are humans.
Hosts, on the other hand, can evolve beyond making the same choice. That word (choice) has been put out there throughout the season as a way to emphasize that the goal of hosts is to be given freedom to make their own choices. But “The Passenger” went a step further. It’s not just that hosts get to chose, they are the only ones capable of it.
Now as for the recap, we’ve got a lot of information to cover. And the only way I can see to present it all (well, most of it) is in the order the events happened in.
So there will be little to no timeline jumping from me as we break down the process of Delos’s research, what the Forge and the Valley Beyond possess, and several big reveals that have our heads spinning the day after.
“I guess that means our interests are still aligned.”
Everyone is converging at the “Valley Beyond” for the final confrontation:
-Dolores meets the MIB as both are headed to “the Forge.” Both have the same goal of destroying the place, so you’d think they might try and work together just like old times.
-A group of hosts is marching towards where they think “The Door” will open for them to reach “The Valley Beyond.”
-Maeve soon joins the group marching towards where they think “The Door” will open.
-Bernard drives out there and runs into the MIB and Dolores.
-Charlotte Hale and crew are following Clementine, whose been granted Maeve like powers to make hosts fight and kill each other.
Now, it only made sense for Dolores and the MIB to work together. But the MIB’s gonna MIB, which means he must kill Dolores before she goes into the Forge.
The problem with that is the rules have changed. It is now humans who can’t kill the hosts (at least they can’t kill Dolores). The MIB ends up shooting off his own fingers. Dolores and Bernard leave him in his misery as they both enter the Forge, both with different purposes.
“The best they could do was live within their code.”
In the Forge, Bernard and Dolores are able to access the virtual reality created to experiment with James Delos. It is here that we learn the process Delos uses to attempt producing eternal life:
- They observe all guests actions and interactions in the park.
- They create a program for each guest and experiment with that program until it exactly matches every action that guest took while in the park.
- They try the program in real life situations (both in the virtual reality and in the apartment with a clone).
What they found was humans were very simple. No matter what you changed about their programming, they would always make the same decision. The prime example of this was Delos and the last conversation he ever had with Logan. Delos always told Logan to f*#& off whenever his son told him he successfully completed rehab. There last conversation was just that. And no matter what adjustments they made to Delos’s programming, that conversation went the same way every time it was simulated again.
And speaking of Logan, he was the one showing Bernard and Dolores around because he was the key figure in Delos’s life.
“That world is just another false promise.”
It is in the Forge where we see the first signs that Dolroes vs Bernard will be the key conflict of Season 3. Their interests in the Forge are polar opposites: Bernard wants to open “The Door” to the “Valley Beyond” while Dolores wants to delete all the data in the Forge.
The door opens and only the hosts can see it (Felix and Sylvester, the two techs who built up Maeve last season, saying “What door?” was a nice callback to last season when Bernard said the same line). When a hosts walks through it, his or her physical body stays behind while the soul moves into an Eden like place “untouched by humans.”
But Dolores’s attempt to destroy the Forge will also destroy the hosts (for some reason?), and Bernard will have none of that. He shoots Dolores (which, unlike the MIB, he can do) and stops the deletion process the Forge was going through (which all seemed a little easy considering the sensitive data held there). With the Forge beginning to flood, Bernard has to get out of there. Before he goes, he grabs what looks like the encryption key (but it’s not).
“Sophisticated enough to think they’re in control, when they’re really just passengers.”
On the outside, the hosts are approaching the door. And if the humans knew they were all going to disappear after walking through that door, then they could have just stopped what they were doing and let it happen.
But they can’t see the door. So they have no way of knowing what all those hosts who’ve been killing humans non stop for weeks now are standing around for.
Clementine rides through on her horse, and the hosts all turn on each other. Even armistice taking Clementine out with a gun doesn’t stop the fighting.
Before things get bad for all hosts, Maeve finds her daughter. She’s able to help her, the girl’s new mother, and Ake make it through the door and into the Valley Beyond.
Ake is the last host to make it in. Every other host we know and love is killed (well only “host dead” I assume). Bernard tells Elsie (who was picked up by Charlotte Hale) he wants to save them. But fail safe procedures have already begun. And that fail safe is the reason all the bodies of the hosts were under water in the season premiere.
“Is this the end of your story, or do you want your kind to survive?”
Bernard confronts Elsie for siding with Hale. But I’m not really sure what choice he left her after he left her by herself out in the wild.
But I will say Elsie should have picked up quicker not to be so upfront with Charlotte Hale. She knows Delos’s mission and all the human life Hale allowed to die in order to protect that mission. So when Elsie openly confronts Hale, you knew it was not going to end well. Hale shoots and kills Elsie, an event Bernard witnesses and is inspired by.
Bernard tries desperately to bring back the Ford he erased last week. Despite being unable to do it, Ford appears anyway. We learn later on this is all Bernard’s imagination. Everything he does from this point forward is all Bernard. And we learn all about his next steps after the Strand led Delos team in present day returned him to the Forge.
The present day Delos crew is at the still flooded Forge, and the body of Dolores Abernathy is still on the floor. The Delos crew discovers the encryption key inside the mind of Dolores. They start downloading, and Bernard starts remembering.
The reason Bernard’s memory has been so hazy is because he programmed himself to do that. He also recalls getting to work on creating a new host. The data from the encryption key downloads, but something goes wrong. The Delos crew did not have time to figure out the error because Charlotte Hale started shooting them.
The ball Bernard walked out of the Forge with wasn’t the encryption key. It was Dolores’s core drive. He built a host Charlotte Hale and plugged Dolores’s core drive in her. So Dolores, using the host Hale’s body, kills the human Hale. That means every scene with the Strand led (the tall bald guy) Delos crew has been with Dolores disguised as Hale.
DoloresHale finds her way to where Stubbs is helping surviving guests get off the island. A number of hosts, including Maeve, were conveniently not drowned in the water. We also see Grace’s body, and the MIB has been picked up in bad shape.
Stubbs sees DoloresHale and knows immediately after talking to her that she’s not the human version. But he let’s her go because he no longer feels loyal to Delos and his responsibility is to “every host on the island” wink wink.
DoloresHale escapes with numerous core drives in her bag, an essential piece of information for the episode’s pre-credits conclusion.
“We are the authors of our stories now.”
DoloresHale arrives at Arnold’s old place. It is here that she creates new bodies for Dolores and Bernard. I assume one of these little balls contained Hale’s data from the Forge. So everyone is who they say they are now. And they are out in the real world, where Dolores and Arnold will battle for the survival of their species.
“Do you know where you are, William?”
And yet, we aren’t finished. Westworld decides to go Marvel Cinematic Universe on us and give us a post credit scene. I usually don’t read any other articles about the episode until after I’m done with my recap. But I made a notable exception this week that I’ll link later.
The MIB enters the Forge that is rebuilt and no longer under water. Grace (his daughter) comes out to greet William and leads him into a room similar to the one Delos was in earlier this season. She proceeds to ask him many of the same questions William asked Delos earlier in the year.
Now, many took this to be proof that the MIB was indeed a host all season. But remember, the Forge is no longer flooded, which means this is either the future, virtual reality, or both.
Also, remember how the very dead Logan was the control for Delos’s experiment. Well, it’s the same here with Grace. Now I don’t doubt that very experience we just witnessed with the MIB will play out the same way long after he “dies.” This could also be a hallucination. But this last scene is the future (or a vision of the MIB’s imagining), that much is certain.
-Another note about a possible MIB host reveal: we did see the end result of him cutting his arm open as Dolores rode up on him. That search turned up nothing.
-It was also interesting that Arnold, a man the MIB was really interested in seeking out last season, was unrecognizable to the MIB in the form of Bernard.
-And the reveal that Dolores built Bernard (the host she now opposes) also tied all the opening sequences with the two of them together nicely.
-I didn’t feel like it fit earlier, but I thought it was great symbolism using books to represent the data collected for every guest.
-RIP Lee Sizemore. The selfish egotist of last season sacrificially gave his life so Maeve could save her daughter. Forgive me for every terrible thing I said about your character.
-In a nice “So that’s why they’re still around,” moment, Sylvester and Felix are tasked with rebuilding all the hosts they can. The look of “Great, here we go again” from the duo as they looked down at Maeve was fantastic.
-So how is Hale’s host going to function if human data from the park didn’t work in the real world? Is it different because she’s in a host body? Or is her personality someone else’s?
-Dolores sent all the hosts that made the Valley Beyond away somewhere where they can’t be found. So does that mean we’ve seen the last of them? Surely, we’re not done with Ake yet?
What we learned…
-Some hosts are now in the Valley Beyond, out of reach from human interference. Some are in need of repairs but still in the park. And three are now out in the real world.
-Delos was using data from guests at the park to try and create exact replicas that would make decisions just as the original did.
-The most important person in a human’s life takes the controls of the VR experiments being conducted on them.
-Hale in present day has been Dolores in disguise all season.
-Humans in Westworld are incapable of choosing outside of the program. Hosts, however, appear as if they can.
-The MIB is either hallucinating as he sees himself in a James Delos like situation, or that is the future he has to look forward to.
Here’s the great article by Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair explaining the post credits scene with the MIB.
Well, it’s been quite a ride this season. Who knows how long we’ve got until Westworld returns for Season 3, so thank you so much for reading this season. Hopefully, we’ll back together again sooner rather than later.