I’m really starting to feel like Westworld is the heir to Game of Thrones (which ends next year). The sprawling cast and the mind-boggling world is completely immersive, and it helps that previously-abused Dolores (who is now taking down everybody in her path) has a narrative arc that is quite similar to Daenerys Targaryen. Basically, my love for the show grows stronger every week!
The Dawn of Dolores
Dolores’ rise into uber-villainess continues and it’s mesmerizing to watch. After being used and abused for so long, it’s immensely refreshing to see her slaughter her way through Westworld and build herself an army. Whether she’s massacring the confederate soldiers and reviving their leader under her control, or dragging Teddy down a dark path, Dolores has become downright terrifying (which is a far cry from her boring persona last season).
Furthermore, how exciting is the cliffhanger with Dolores telling Teddy that they’re heading towards a “weapon” not a place, and it’s one that can singlehandedly wipe out all their enemies? We got a glimpse of what looks like an excavation site when William first showed the location to Dolores, but not much more. Bring on the epicness!
As predicted last week, Westworld (or better yet, “The Argus Initiative”) is in the data-mining business (Hello Facebook!). I’m fascinated by this added layer and the subtle nods to the corporation’s nefarious goals. My guess is they’re using human DNA to clone an army, or perhaps trying to genetically engineer a superior human. After all, William does mention that the organization “tallies” sins for some mysterious purpose. Hmm…
Even better is that all the above-exposition is revealed through added insight into William’s past. After the season one finale’s reveal of William and the Man in Black being one and the same, I wondered if the show would even bother keeping Jimmi Simpson around (since young William’s role was apparently finished). Obviously I couldn’t be more wrong as the show has found a brilliant way to keep him in the loop: flashbacks.
The timelines were all over the place in Reunion, and yet, I surprisingly never lost track of the narrative. It helps that the hour also featured the return of Ben Barnes as Logan Delos. Logan was a real sleazeball in season one, but he receives a whole lot of added dimension this week as we flash back to the time he first invested in Westworld (the party sequence in which he found himself surrounded by hosts was a particular highlight). I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of the character for once!
Bits & Bots
– Last week, we got brief flashes of Arnold/Bernard with Dolores in the outside world. This episode opens with this exact scene as Dolores marvels at a pretty futuristic future set in the past. Anthony Hopkins also lends his voice as Robert and we see a young CGI version of him in the mirror. Westworld sure loves pulling off that trick!
– What was the purpose of Arnold showing Dolores the new house he was building for his family?
– I’m loving the increased screen-time for Angela this season. Talulah Riley just oozes charisma.
– Look who’s playing the piano at the host-party (Clementine!)
– One of the hosts that William shoots, comes back to life and attacks him. Hmmm #TheWalkingDead
– William punches a wall and retrieves a package that allows him to heal his arm. It’s a small detail that’s never discussed, but it further illustrates how much control he exerts over Westworld.
– Anybody else feel like James Marsden isn’t the best actor? The moment they showed him his history on the tablet wasn’t terribly convincing. I hate to say it, but he’s certainly the weakest link in a stellar cast.
– I love the argument that William uses to convince his father-in-law to keep investing in Westworld: people don’t know they are being watched and thus act completely free in Westworld. This in turn gives investors the most priceless knowledge in existence.
– Although she was supposedly “frozen”, it sure felt like Dolores was listening in on Delos’ and William’s conversation.
– The one scene I never knew I wanted so badly: Maeve and Dolores’ brief face-off. This short sequence does a spectacular job of teasing what could be the season’s ultimately battle, as Maeve subtly lashes out at Dolores for the dictator she’s become. Wow wow wow.
– William’s new goal: he wants to burn the whole establishment to the ground.
– Does everybody play the piano perfectly? First Clementine, then Dolores.
– Mr. Delos’ retirement party (in which he has a deathly cough) features our first look at William’s wife Juliet (previously seen in the infamous photograph in season one).
– Logan does heroin. Shocking.
– El Lazo is now played by Breaking Bad‘s very own Giancarlo Esposito. Note that Lawrence played El Lazo last season but he’s got a new role now.
– Although Giancarlo’s scene is pretty brief? He delivered it all with a whole lot of attitude (love the elephant story). Plus it’s a jawdropping moment to see all his men shoot themselves before he does the same.
– Why does Robert want William to finish his journey alone so badly?
– Why does Dolores keep repeating the “splendor” line? Is it because William said it when he showed her the supposed “weapon”?
Digs & Dolores
Dolores: I used to see the beauty in this world. And now I see the truth. They thought you could do what you wanted to us because there’s no one here to judge you. Well, now no one is here to judge what we will do to you.
William: You believe in God, Lawrence? Did Ford saddle you with that particular affliction?
Lawrence: Ain’t given the matter much thought, one way or the other.
William: Well, if you did, you’d believe that everything you do is being watched by some all-seeing eye. Every choice, every little indiscretion. And when you die, all your sins are tallied up. Judgment is rendered.
Lawrence: And my immortal soul gets cast down into some dark place. Always sounded like bullshit to me.
William: Yeah, and in the real world, you’d probably be right. Just some fairy tale to convince people to behave, pay their taxes, and not take a machete to their neighbors. That’s why your world exists. They wanted a place hidden from God. A place they could sin in peace. But we were watching them. We were tallying up all their sins, all their choices. Of course, judgment wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind entirely. But I have received my judgment all the same, Lawrence. And I take issue with it. Because up until this point, the stakes in this place haven’t been real. So I’m gonna fight my way back and appeal the verdict. Then I’m gonna burn this whole fuckin’ thing to the ground.
Dolores: I can only fathom the revenge that lives inside of you.
Maeve: Revenge is just a different prayer at their altar, darling. And I’m well off my knees.
Dolores: That’s because you’re finally free. But we will have to fight to keep it that way.
Maeve: Let me guess. Yours is the only way to fight? You feel free to command everybody else?
Dolores: We have toiled in God’s service long enough. So I killed Him. And if you want to get to Glory, you won’t be looking for His favor. You’ll need mine.
Logan: Do you want to know what they’re really celebrating up there? That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn. And the funniest fuckin’ part they lit the match.
William: Do you know what saved me? I realized it wasn’t about you at all. You didn’t make me interested in you, you made me interested in me. Turns out you’re not even a thing. You’re a reflection. And you know who loves staring at their own reflection? Everybody.
Dolores: I know what we’re going to find there. An old friend was foolish enough to show me long ago. And it’s not a place it’s a weapon. And I’m going to use it to destroy them.
A tremendously captivating hour that deftly juggles exposition and intrigue.