Westworld’s second season has now reached the halfway point (I know, it moves too quickly), and the message really hasn’t changed: the two main protagonists of the show, Maeve and Dolores, are bent on some form of host domination.
The former wants to get to her daughter. But in the course of that mission she is gathering an ever growing army of humans and hosts spanning two adult theme parks and likely leaving a real mess behind her. The latter wants to lead a host rebellion at some point, but she’s taking a temporary reprieve to find her father and order a complete override of the man that she loves.
Now, I have personally enjoyed the journey of both Maeve and Dolores so far. But one journey that has frustrated me is the present day timeline involving Bernard and the crew from the outside. Since the premiere, we have moved no closer to any of the big reveals Strand and company are looking for. Instead, we get a two minute clip at the start of the episode asking the same damn questions this crew’s been asking since they first arrived.
Let’s start the recap with that opening scene so we can get it out of the way. Then, we’ll get to the good stuff.
“How does the story turn?”
I’ll mostly be giving reminders of who these characters are. The guy with the shaved head is Paul Strand. He’s leading the outside rescue mission and is looking for answers to how this whole host rebellion thing (as well as all the bodies of the dead hosts) came to pass. Nothing new happens here. He’s simply asking the same questions he’s been asking in every scene he’s been in all season. Except this time, he’s asking it at headquarters where all the bodies (host and human alike) are being collected.
The other guy here is Antoine Costa. He’s the tech expert with the crew. And just like ever other scene his been in, he’s confused with what’s going on. He does drop some info telling us that one-third of the hosts in headquarters have had all their date completely erased.
Also, they are still looking for Abernathy and Bernard is there looking confused. So there you have it. These people still exist, but they have no new information to share with us at this time.
“These past few days, I’ve seen you so clearly.”
Meanwhile, back in the (present/past?), Dolores wants to load her crew on a train and find her father. But they need supplies and a location. So Teddy and Dolores have time to evaluate their relationship the rest of the episode.
The first location is familiar for the two programed lovers: looking out over a beautiful scene of nature. But this time, their conversation is not just dialogue programmed into their narrative. They both have the free will available to them to make their own decisions about the future.
Teddy wants Dolores to run away with him and leave everything else behind. Now, we all know at this point that Dolores will have none of that. Her response is a foreshadowing story about a diseased cattle his father had to kill in order to save the herd. After hearing “the herd marched on,” Teddy should’ve run away. But he’s Teddy, and he’s not that deep a thinker.
But before she betrays him, Dolores and Teddy finally sleep together. Now that they’ve escaped their narrative arcs, these two can do that. But that act made Dolores’s betrayal even more vicious.
Later that night, Dolores confesses to Teddy that her feelings for him are true, which makes what she’s about to do next even tougher. She orders the tech traveling with her to reset Teddy. Dolores doesn’t think Teddy, in his current form, is vicious enough to carry out the plans she has. Our last scene of Teddy shows the tech hitting override (so maybe that’s how the hosts in that first scene had their data erased), preparing us for drastic changes the next time we see him.
“This all feels a little familiar.”
Our first foray into Shogun world begins with a ninja capturing Maeve and her crew. And for the first time ever, I found Sizemore’s character to be essential (as opposed to infuriating or annoying). First, he informs Maeve that Shogun World is for those who “find Westworld too tame” (so that’s encouraging). Then, he encourages Maeve to look deep in her programming to find “Rosetta Stone: Host Edition” so she can talk to their captives.
Now, the man who captured Maeve’s crew is named Mushasi. And the walk he takes the captives on looks mighty familiar.
It’s the Hector-led safe-robbing scene played out in the streets of Japan. It turns out Mushasi is the Asian version of Hector. There’s a girl with a dragon tattoo that Armistice (the snake-tattooed assassin) takes a special interest in. The safe they are robbing is inside the house of a geisha named Madame Akane (the Maeve like character). And her prized dancer is Sakura (who is like Clementine).
Eventually, Maeve accesses the Japanese language in her programming and defuses the situation, turning Maeve’s crew from prisoners to welcome guests.
“Shogun’s army never comes into town!”
A representative of the Shogun later comes in requesting Sakura, Madame Akane’s prized dancer. Akane’s response (one of many off script items that drive Sizemore crazy during this episode) was to shove a short sword through the eyes of the messenger.
Now, I don’t know how word made it so quickly to the Shogun that his messenger was killed. But his response was swift. A group of ninjas attack in the middle of the night and capture Sakura. Then, the Shogun’s army (led by a General Tanaka), march through the streets and capture Hector and Musashi (in what is actually a diversion).
Everyone else is able to escape. And Maeve tried a new trick on her way out using mind control to convince one of Shogun’s ninjas to shove his own head into a sharp blade.
“I’m listening to a new voice.”
Now, throughout the episode, Maeve found her control of hosts through spoken word to be out of order. And after her crew arrives at the Shogun’s camp to confront him, we find out why.
The Shogun (who somehow received word of a “witch” approaching Shogun World) cut off the ears of his army. The Shogun agrees to return Sakura to Akane if they both dance for him.
Big surprise here: the Shogun did not live up to his word. Instead, he walked up to Sakura and shoved a sword in her stomach before demanding Akane dance for him on her own.
Now, how does a man who had enough foresight to cut off the ears of hosts so they can’t be tempted by a “witch” coming from another park let his guard down here. Akane dances for him and mesmerizes him so much that she is able to pull a blade out and slice (and when I say slice, I literally mean sliced like a grapefruit) the Shogun’s head in half.
The Shogun’s men are ready to execute both Maeve and Akane, but Maeve shows off that new trick she’s learned. She can speak to hosts telepathically. And she convinces all of Shogun’s men to turn on each other. More troops are on their way as the episode ends. But we can infer pretty strongly what’s about to happen to them.
-Maeve develops a deep connection with her Shogun world counterpart, Akane. Watching Akane be a mother to Sakura causes Maeve to have flashbacks to her own time as a mother on several different occasions.
-Maeve also tries to give Akane the freedom other hosts are experiencing. But Akane refuses.
-The Shogun had to overcome the leaking of that cortical fluid Bernard’s been leaking everywhere in previous episodes.
-Angela also captured and tortured one of the security staff that ran off with Abernathy a few weeks ago. He was able to give them the location of Dolores’s father.
-Sizemore also picked up a radio he found connected to one of the trees while he was peeing.
-“You try writing 300 stories in 3 weeks.” A good response from Sizemore after Maeve and her crew get upset with him for repeating the Hector story in Shogun world.
-I wonder if/when Sizemore will figure out that the hosts are well off script. Maybe he does realize it and is just a creative mind unhappy to see his work being altered the way it is, but he really does need to get the point that these hosts are now alive and acting on their own.
-Clementine had a bitter sweet moment tonight as she looked on and heard her replacement saying the lines she remembers saying thousands of times.
What we Learned
-Shogun world is more brutal than Westworld is, and it is going through the same host takeover transformation the other parks are enduring.
-Maeve can now use her mind to control hosts.
-Sizemore’s understanding of the park has been invaluable to Maeve on her mission.
-Elements of the stories played out in Westworld are repeated in the other parks.
-Dolores’s feelings for Teddy are still there, but she needs a tougher Teddy for the next steps in her mission.
-Dolores and company are on their way to find and take back Peter Abernathy from the humans trying to access his information.
Next week begins the second half of Westworld’s second season. See you then!!!