For a show like Westworld, with all its intrigue and mystery, its greatest enemy is its viewers. The fans who take in the show every Sunday night, then go online the next week and share all their theories about just what the hell is going on.
Because of the obsession we take as TV viewers when following the shows we love, we end up either predicting or reading what turn out to be correct predictions of the major reveals of the season we are watching.
And I don’t think it’s necessarily because fan bases are smarter than they used to be. It’s just, thanks to the world wide web, we talk way too much about favorite shows and are exposed to a significantly more opinions that we used to be. With all this time spent talking about it and all the different voices speaking to us about it, we’re bound to hit on something that turns out to be true.
I was one who took in many of these theories and, as a result, expected a number of the major reveals (Bernard=Arnold, William=The Man in Black, Dolores=Wyatt) to happen before they did. But Westworld still found a way to sneak its greatest reveal in with little to no discussion from its message boards (at least none that I came across).
It was Dr. Robert Ford the whole time that wanted chaos. It was Ford, finally taking the view of his partner, that wanted to give his creation the chance to escape. And now that at least one of these hosts has found her way out of “the maze,” we’ll see just what Ford’s final vision looks like when the chaotic end of Season 1 resolves itself (or gets even more messy) in Season 2.
As for this final recap of Season 1, too much happened for me to break it down by character like I usually do. Instead, I’m going to recap the entire episode as it happened, starting with Dolores, the girl all the boys want to find.
“There’s Something About Dolores”
I had no idea Westworld was really a reboot of the 90’s classic starring Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz.
But as we start “The Bicameral Mind,” everyone’s pursuing the park’s oldest host. The Man is Black is with her, and he wants Dolores to take him to the center of that damn maze. William is on his way with an army of Lawrence and his men (and a tied up Logan, who thankfully, is an afterthought most of the finale). And don’t forget about Teddy. He jumps off that train, steals a horse, and rides out to find and rescue his forever programmed love.
Dolores, however, is pursuing another man: Arnold, her creator. Arnold’s voice leads her to a grave with her name on it. Buried in that grave is a kid’s tin can with “the maze” inside of it. It’s here that Dolores recalls talking with Arnold about that maze the MIB has been pursuing all season.
The Meaning of the Maze
So the maze is not a physical location in the park. It’s the minds of the hosts and the journey they take to achieve independence from their programming.
That creation of Arnold’s and what he discovered about it convinced Arnold the park could not open. But when Dr. Ford refused to comply, Arnold gave Dolores the task of killing all the hosts so the system could be reset.
All of this, of course, pisses off the MIB. He wants the physical location of the maze and the directions to find Wyatt. He doesn’t realize this is the maze (because “The maze is not for you”) and Wyatt is the woman he’s talking to right now.
The Man in Black begins beating Dolores. He’s frustrated Dolores and the other hosts can’t fight back. The park is a big lie and though he’s seen most all of it (because he is the majority owner of the place, as we learned in this conversation), he wants access to the one place that’s not a lie, where the hosts can fight back.
“The Vote was Unanimous”
Meanwhile, Charlotte Hale thinks she’s gone check and mate on Dr. Ford. The board of Delos arrives at the park and votes to remove Dr. Ford from his post. Ford will announce his “retirement” after unveiling his new story line tonight. I’m sure that will go down without a hitch.
At the same time, Maeve is wrecking havoc throughout headquarters. She awakes Hector and Armistice to assist her freedom march. But before she can go, Maeve wants to find out whose been using Arnold’s login to make changes to her and the other hosts in the park without anybody’s knowledge.
“I Know a Guy Named William”
Now here’s the theory the internet figured out many weeks ago. Dolores has been going back and forth between now and her past for most of the show. The confusion, shared by Dolores and we the viewers, was used by the show to muddle her various visions and story lines together as one, making her think William was coming to save her while the Man in Black beats her.
The Man in Black begins to the tell the tale and many of us know what’s about to happen. He speaks of the William storyline we’ve been following all season as if it’s the past. He tells how William could never find Dolores, but he did make it to the outskirts of the park. It was on the outskirts that William sent Logan away naked, tied up to a horse. As if that weren’t enough embarrassment, William also informed Logan of his plans to inherit the company from Logan’s father. Oh, and just for good measure, William took the man’s black hat. Now, nobody in the history of television deserved this all around embarrassment more than Logan, but that’s a real punk job done by William on his brother in law.
William finally sees Dolores back in Sweetwater, but it’s another man who drops the can William picked up all those episodes ago as Dolores fails to remember him.
Dolores realizes that the Man in Black is, in fact, the William who loved and adored her so much. Now, I’m not sure what cued it, but something awoke inside Dolores as she takes the upper hand, pounding the MIB to the ground and holding a gun to his head. The unfeeling man begs her to shoot. But before she can, the MIB takes a knife and stabs her.
Just then, a horse rides up with Teddy, who fires bullets that weaken and take down the MIB. He scoops up Dolores and rides away with her just as the MIB begins to come to.
“He’s a Host?”
Back at headquarters, Maeve knows that the man she must talk to is Bernard (or Arnold as she now knows he is). Felix, shocked that Bernard is dead, but even more shocked that he’s a host, goes to work on him. When Bernard wakes up, Maeve asks to have all the memories of her daughter removed. But Bernard says he can’t. “And oh by the way, Madam,” says Bernard, “everything you’ve been doing to try and escape was programmed into you by someone else.” Maeve didn’t accept that last bit of information very well, so she marches on, deadly assassins and nerdy Felix close behind.
Teddy and Dolores’s “final words”
Teddy takes Dolores to that place he promised her at the start of the season and the hosts say their “final words.” But an audience has gathered on the beach and applauds the scene as Dolroes “dies” in Teddy’s arms.
Ford greets the crowd and says he’s ready to present his new narrative, called “Journey into Night.” But first, he has some things he needs to say to Dolores.
Maeve Complete Her Escape
Eventually, the security breach is discovered (Armistice basically beating the hell out of some poor surgeon and Hector waking up before a male surgeon could do unspeakable things to him) and a fire fight ensues to ensure Maeve finds her way out. Armistice’s arm gets caught in the door, so she tells the others to go on while she continues firing on the swat team. After reaching the elevator, Maeve keeps Hector from entering, saying she must go it alone now. But before she gets off that elevator, Felix hands her a note with information regarding the location of Maeve’s daughter in the park. She takes the note, but insists it will not effect her resolve. Looking all modern human like, Maeve enters a shuttle leaving the park that is departing in 15 minutes.
“Do you understand who you will need to become if you ever want to leave this place?”
Dr. Ford has a sit down with Dolores and gives the background to the final days of Arnold’s life. First, Dolores was created as a representative of Arnold’s son with similar talents and personality. But then, Arnold realized he gave someone the ability to suffer (thanks to the maze) who would never be able to escape it. So he merged Dolores with Wyatt, a villain character Ford and Arnold were working on, and programmed her to not only kill all the hosts (with Teddy’s help, of course) but to kill Arnold.
Now, I’m may have to watch the finale again (and the whole season for that matter) to really have a full understanding why Arnold saw no other way but death here. But I have to admit that, at first viewing, it seemed like a lot of steps were skipped to get to this point. But at least the moment was extremely well done by the actors and the music playing in the background (his son’s favorite song) as bodies of dead hosts surround Dolores and Arnold before she takes the fatal shot set a powerfully surreal scene. And throwing in those last words “These violent delights have violent ends” from Arnold provided one last bit of chill.
Dolores shot herself and Teddy as well. It was at this moment that the park nearly went under with Ford’s partner gone. But William/The Man In Black, thanks to his inspiring journey with Dolores, threw in the money to keep the park going.
We also learn that the gun that Dolores found at the start of the season was put their by Bernard under orders from Ford. So everything, all the robot rebellion and Maeve’s desire to escape, have been a part of Dr. Ford’s, not Arnold’s plan, all along.
So what is the end game of this plan for Dr. Ford? Well, telling Bernard this will be the last time they speak provides a major clue for that.
Journey Into Night
It’s time for the new (and final) narrative of Dr. Robert Ford. Ford’s words were mostly his usual cool sounding philosophical stuff that Anthony Hopkins is so good at delivering. But it’s what the other characters are experiencing that make this final scene work.
Dolores is still in the “old field lab” and appears to be talking to Bernard. But Bernard’s voice and appearance eventually turn into another Dolores. The end of the maze has been achieved for Dolores. She’s discovered that it’s her own thoughts she’s been listening to and she sees her gun sitting on a table in another room.
Maeve, for all her talk of rebelling and getting out of this world, hasn’t achieved Dolores status yet. Just before that train leaves, she walks off, determined to find her daughter (a thought that’s programmed into her, not an independent thought like Dolores’s was). But the power goes out at the terminal before she can get back into the park.
Sizemore, the man who was tasked with getting information onto a host and out of the park, discovers that all those retired hosts are no longer in that warehouse they’ve been stored in.
The Man in Black went off on his own to have a smoke when he sees Wyatt’s crew walking up, approaching the dinner.
Dolores joins the party in her blue dress holding her gun and walks up behind Teddy, informing him that this park is no longer about the humans, but it’s about us (the hosts) as she gets closer to the stage.
Ford tells everyone this will be his last story as Charlotte Hale looks on, satisfied, thinking her job is done. But then, just as Ford informs the guests in the park of his new story about a people who will decide what they are to become, Dolores shoots him in the back of the head.
After shooting Ford, Dolores starts firing at the crowd as everyone frantically runs away and the various hosts around (other than Teddy), start smiling.
The Man in Black feels a bullet hit his arm and he smiles, sensing his desire for a park where the hosts can fight back and everything’s not a lie, is about to become true.
-I like the nice, subtle connection where the maze turns out to be a toy Arnold’s son liked to play with.
-We also connected the photo Dolores’s father found in the first episode to William/The Man in Black. That photo was William’s fiancée. The photo flew away as William rode off to the outer edges of the park, symbolizing the feelings he had for her. I assume Ford had that placed into the ground as well.
-Did anybody else share the MIB’s disappointment when Ford informed that “this” was the center of the maze? I loved the symbolism the maze represented, but part of me really wanted some other physical world for characters to delve into in season 2.
-Armistice’s appreciation of assault weapons was well played and amazingly in character. I do wonder if that post credits scene where Armistice breaks off her arm to get free has any narrative purpose. Or was it just a fun way to end Armistice’s season.
-Where exactly do the Mongolians fit into Westworld next season?
-So the season ends with no resolution on where Elise Hughes or Stubbs ended up. Surely, with the way Westworld tied so many of its other details up in the finale, the show couldn’t just write these two characters out of the story without a resolution.
I have thoroughly enjoyed recapping this first season of Westworld. I look forward to picking up the recaps whenever season 2 begins. Also, be on the lookout for my other recaps when the new seasons of “Better Call Saul” and “Game of Thrones” begin in 2017.