Dolores and William

Westworld can be a confusing show and the season two finale “The Passenger” has left more than a few of us feeling like this:

Jeffrey Wright as Bernard in Westworld WTF

I’m going to do my best, with this compromised cognitive system I call a brain, to explain what’s going on throughout the episode and where (and when) the main characters are at the close of season two.  There will be MASSIVE SPOILERS after this point, so if you haven’t already watched season two in it’s entirety, now is your last chance to do so (assuming that time operates in a linear fashion).

Terminology

(some of these terms are used by the show runners, some I’ve chosen to help make things more clear:

Human: I use this to refer to anyone who is presumed by the audience to be human during a scene (if you watch the show, you know there’s plenty of people we once thought were human that we now know are not)

Host: used to refer to any of the artificially-created “robots” who were made in any of the  various labs.  Dolores, Maeve, and Teddy are the prime examples.

gHost: anyone with an artificially-created body, but whose “mind” is modeled after a particular human being.  A prime example of gHost was James Delos in “The Riddle of the Sphinx”, who was dying of cancer and wanted to “live on” in an artificial body.

The Valley Beyond (aka the Sublime): a new virtual world that the minds of hosts can make their own without human interference.  The Valley Beyond was accessed through the giant door that opened in the desert.

Pearl: the digitized minds of hosts and humans, stored on those little marbled spheres

Westworld Pearl

 

Things I Know I Know (I Think):

James Delos wanted to use Westworld’s technology achieve a form of immortality by putting his mind into a host body.  William had different plans.  He wanted to gather data from everyone who ever went into any of the parks and digitally recreate their minds.  Remember that a trip to Westworld is exorbitantly expensive.  As a result, he’s copying the minds of the world’s elite.  He could use that info to manipulate, blackmail, or even possibly replicate them in gHost form.

Ford believed than human beings had minds that were so simple, they weren’t really capable of free choice.  So, he put Bernard in a position to make a real choice: whether hosts would be allowed to continue to exist (at the likely cost of humanity’s continued existence).  Bernard initially chose to kill Dolores (thereby allowing Charlotte and the humans of Delos to continue their dominion over the hosts).  After seeing Charlotte kill Elsie, Bernard reconsiders and brings Dolores back (though now in a host body modeled after Charlotte).

Lee, Elsie, and Charlotte are dead.  Lee sacrificed himself to allow Maeve and her gang to make it to the door to the Valley Beyond.  Elsie was shot to death by Charlotte Hale, who was later shot to death my her host clone.

The minds/spirits of the hosts that made it through the Door are in a simulated world that they can make how they see fit.  This includes Maeve’s “daughter” (though not Maeve herself), Akecheta, and several members of the Ghost Nation.  Dolores initially wanted to erase this world because it isn’t “real”, but after listening to Bernard, she decided to let this new world (called the Sublime in interviews with show creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan) exist, and sent it to someplace where humans would not be able to tamper with it.  She also sent her poor, dead Teddy there.

Dolores escapes the park (in a host body modeled after Charlotte Hale, after killing the real Charlotte Hale) and makes it into the real world.  She is still bent on conquering the real world for hosts and destroying humans, but she realizes that she will need a balance to this goal, so she recreates Bernard.  She needs Bernard and his compassion for both humans and hosts to keep her power from being unchecked.

William is a gHost, but has not always been so.  In most of his scenes throughout the series he was still human.  The post-credit scene takes place years after the opening of the Door at the Valley Beyond, and the human William would have been dead by then.  The post-credits William is the mind of human William transferred into a gHost body and undergoing fidelity tests.  Who initiated these tests is unclear.

Things I Think I Know:

Ford is gone.  After he was shot by Dolores in the season one finale, I think most of us suspected he would be back in some form.  We were right.  In season two, his mind is still present in Westworld, most notably housed in Bernard’s pearl.  Though I was skeptical last week when Bernard appeared to purge Ford’s mind from his own, this episode confirms that it did actually happen.  Ford’s appearance in this episode was only Bernard’s memories of him.

Maeve will be back.  This may be wishful thinking, since Maeve sacrificed herself so that her daughter could make it to the Valley Beyond.  However, when we saw her body on the beach afterwards, another tech tells Felix and Sylvester to “bag the ones you think we might be able to salvage”, so I take that as a sign that we haven’t seen the last of her.

Things I Think, But Don’t Think I Know:

Stubbs is…a host?  His conversation with Dolores before she leaves the park implies he probably is a host, but one loyal to Ford, put there to aid in Ford’s plan to free the hosts.  Either way, he seems to know that a host is heading to the real world and that’s just fine with him.

Humans create hosts who create humans who create hosts in an endless loop.  I thought the MC Escher picture “Drawing Hands”, in the house where Arnold first brought Dolores was the showrunners’s way of telling us that this is what happened, that time is cyclical even outside of the parks and the hosts’ loops.  Upon second viewing, it appears that this is not quite a “snake eating its own tail” situation, just several links in a chain of events that does not loop back on itself.
Drawing Hands - MC Escher in Bernard's house on Westworld Strange Loop

Things I Don’t Know:

Who Tessa Thompson is playing in the final scenes with Dolores and Bernard.  Dolores is back in a host body that looks like Evan Rachel Wood, but Tessa Thompson is in the background of the lab and seems to be working with Dolores.
How did Teddy’s body get into the flooded valley?  Dolores took his pearl with her and uploaded his mind into the Valley Beyond, but that doesn’t explain how his body ended up there after he killed himself in the abandoned ranch.

Was any of this helpful to you?  Are you more or less confused?  What do you think I got wrong?  Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Josh is a writer and a lover of The Simpsons, Monty Python, The State, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, and Preacher. He spends probably too much time reading and has lately been attempting to eat the occasional vegetable, with limited success.

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