Not every “Reunion” is a happy one. Sometimes they lead to violent confrontation, like last night’s episode of Westworld. In the episode, we learn more about the origins of the park, Delos’s plans for it, and where this whole thing is headed. To misquote Dolores, “A strange SPOILER can be just as frightening as the dark”, so if you haven’t watched the epsiode yet, turn back now.
“You thought you could do what you wanted to us because there’s no one here to judge you.”
Dolores and crew reach the lab. This is what she told Teddy last episode that she needed to show him: the nature of their reality. They conscript a tech named Phil (Patrick Cage) into their service and he shows Teddy that he has died many times before. They find out that Delos will be sending a force of 800 to take back the park, and so Dolores will need to gather an army to defend themselves. She has one in mind: the Confederados.
On the way to recruit them, Dolores has a tense reunion with Maeve, who says that fighting a war for revenge on humans is just a “different prayer at their altar”, and she has no interest in it. Maeve, Hector, and Lee move on with their own quest.
Dolores meets the Confederados, who rebuff her offer to join them. It seems that seeing an old member resurrected and Dolores’s seemingly mystical knowlwedge of their plans wasn’t enough to convince them, so Dolores resorts to that age-old bargaining tool: violence. She orders Angela and Teddy kill them all, then has Phil bring them back online.
“You’re too perfect to be one of us.”
Back in the real world (and back in time), Logan is fielding requests for capital. Asking on behalf of Westworld are Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon, Hanzee from season two of Fargo) and Angela, in her more refined, pre-marauder days. The demonstration that follows, with Logan wandering around a crowded cocktail party trying to discern who there is a host, is shot in such a way that even though we the audience have seen hosts in action before, we still feel his surprise and wonder upon seeing them for the first time. Instead of one or two, we find that almost everyone there (including a piano-playing Clementine) is a host. Logan‘s first instinct on seeing possibly the greatest technological achievement in history is to fuck it. He takes several hosts to bed and when Angela wakes up, Dolores is watching her.
Another flashback shows William and his future father-in-law James Delos (Peter Mullan) inspecting Westworld. Delos is uninspired at the prospect of investing in the park, but William tells him what he sees as the park’s main value: learning about the wants of consumers in an environment where they feel no one is watching them. The whole thing is an advancement in market research and James is now interested. It when it comes to the Delos family, sex and money are the extents of their vision.
“Well, dead isn’t what it used to be, Lawrence.”
The Man in Black once again saves Lawrence from an execution, nearly getting killed himself in the process. He tells Lawrence that although people come to Westworld to sin without anyone watching, the fact is they (Delos) have been watching everything. Like Dolores, he sets out for the Valley Beyond in the west and tries to recruit an army along the way. In the sacked town of Pariah, the Man in Black and Lawrence find El Lazo (Giancarlo Esposito). In juxtaposition to Dolores, violence won’t help recruit El Lazo’s army. He has his men kill themselves, and kills himself, rather than join the Man in Black and he leaves him with a message from Ford: this game is meant for him, but he must play it alone.
“In this world you can be whoever the f*ck you want”
One of my favorite things about season one of Westworld was watching the actors get to play hosts in so many different ways. The prime example is Evan Rachel Wood going from Dolores (the rancher’s daughter who sees the beauty in the world) to Wyatt (the murderous soldier) and eventually transcending either of these characters to find that she alone determines who she really is. In season two Ed Harris’s Man in Black proves that you don’t have to be a robot to undergo such a metamorphosis. Sometimes all it takes is being reminded of your own inevitable death. He’s is a completely different character in season two, going from a grim, joyless killer to a grim, joyful killer, but as good as he was in the first season, watching him revel in playing the game now that the stakes are real is even better.