This felt like a series finale, and it was just phenomenal. Confusing to be sure, but phenomenal.
Double The Dolores
Much like the big William / Man in Black twist in last year’s season finale, The Passenger contains its own game-changing jawdropper: the Charlotte Hale we’ve been watching in the present timeline all season long is none other than Dolores (after Bernard killed her and then changed his mind and placed her consciousness in Host Charlotte’s body). It’s a fantastic reveal that’s beautifully brought to life with Halores (yes that’s what they’re calling her online) massacring Strand and his minions, and ultimately escaping into the outside world.
That’s right, we’ve got a fascinating new status quo in place for season three: Halores, Bernard, and Hale (so are there two Doloreses now?) in Arnold’s house in the “real” world. The cherry on top is that Dolores recognizes that she and Bernard are on opposite ends of the spectrum (good vs evil), but that they both need each other to survive. This season has done a tremendous job of exploring a whole lot of existential themes, and The Passenger continues that streak with a captivating look at human nature. Suffice to say, the possibilities for season three are just endless.
The Door Opens
After a whole lot of talk about the infamous Door all season long, I love that we got an ACTUAL door in The Passenger. In fact, this path rips a fabric in the park’s reality, and leads hosts into a kind of virtual eden. Sure, they shed their bodies along the way, but their minds get to live on in a harmonious paradise landscape. It’s a beautiful image that’s punctuated by Akecheta getting reunited with his one true love (in a moment that got me all teary eyed), and Dolores hiding all the hosts by re-tasking the Delos satellites and changing the data’s coordinates. Crazy right? But impeccably well done.
The Passenger is also notable because it introduces us to “the system”, personified by none other than Logan Delos. It’s a great excuse to bring Ben Barnes back into the fold and have him deliver bucketloads of exposition. Barnes is a terrific actor, and he thankfully makes it all work (another actor would have collapsed under the weight of so much information). I was completely transfixed watching Dolores and Bernard make their way through a “baseline” simulation of Sweetwater, which showcases everything Delos did when he first visited the park (and boy was he nuts). Even more fascinating is Logan revealing that the system constructed 18 million copies of Delos, and all of them came back to one momentous night: Delos rejecting his son who overdosed soon after. Barnes is equally heartbreaking here, as he managed to make me care for a character I never really gave much thought to. Impressive!
System Logan also reveals that humans are just an algorithm incapable of free will, and this theory is brought to life through a thin book packed with code, and then an actual library with the four million guests who have visited the park. It’s a super trippy sequence – one that’s simple in execution and yet so very creative.
And then there’s that mind-bender of a post-credit sequence with William entering the infamous Delos apartment and getting questioned for “fidelity” by none other than Emily. While I’m pretty sure both father and daughter are hosts here (and that this scene takes place some time in the future), I don’t think it means present day William is a host (since we did see him digging into his arm). I’m leaning towards Dolores having crafted a host William who is bound to spend eternity in this hellish landscape getting questioned by his daughter. Ouch.
Bits & Bots
– Loved all the visuals of Clementine leading the Delos agents on her horse. The sweeping landscape shots in this finale are just stunning.
– Badass moment: Maeve getting all the hosts to save her and put her back together. But even more kickass is Maeve walking in slow-mo as the bulls charge and fly off the ledge taking out her opponents. Wow. I need that scene in GIF form.
– So Ford tasked Dolores with building Arnold. Did we know that already? Because it sure surprised me.
– How badass is Dolores walking towards William as he shoots at her to no avail? (much like Teddy tried to shoot at the Man in Black all the way back in the pilot). Notice how Dolores cleverly rigged the gun beforehand and got William’s hand shot off.
– I’m guessing Lee won’t come back next year and I’m totally fine with that since his ending in the finale is pretty satisfying. He was always a coward, so it’s gratifying to see him finally become brave, go all out with his speech, and sacrifice himself to save Maeve.
– Notice that one of the books that Dolores is reading is called Karl Strand. Ha!
– I didn’t notice at first but Dolores says she has “one last soul” to upload. That’s how she transfers Teddy to Eden, and I’m guessing his body is left for the flood like we saw in the premiere.
– Clementine slowly infecting everybody to turn on each other was so chilling, particularly how her effect continued even after she was shot off the horse.
– Gorgeous scene with Maeve raising her hand and freezing everybody just in time for her daughter to escape.
– It sure looked like Maeve’s dead body was smiling, finally content with content her daughter to safety. That’s both uplifting and depressing.
– Another mini jawdropper: Hale shooting Elsie dead. Damn!
– Goosebumps as Hale faced off with a host version of herself (who is very much naked).
– Notice how Tessa Thompson replicates Evan Rachel Wood’s mannerisms after the reveal? It’s a very nuanced performance, and I now feel like rewatching the season and catching all the clues.
– When Bernard and Elsie found Delos a few episodes back, he uttered the line “I’m all the way down.” These words are revealed to be Logan’s last words to his dad. How sad.
– Love the twist of Bernard having imagined Ford (since he had deleted him). Their scene at the beach as he scatters his memories is also very insightful (love the parallels of him hearing his own voice like Dolores’ awakening in season one).
– Did anyone else get the vibe that Stubbs is a host? He certainly knows about Halores so it would make sense that Ford planted him. Unless, he’s just really really REALLY loyal.
– Obviously Westworld would never dare continue without Thandie Newton, so I’m guessing Felix and Sylvester will be saving her now that they’ve been tasked with salvaging some hosts. Whew.
– On the boat, Halores has a bunch of control units in her purse (five to be exact). Any guesses on which hosts she managed to smuggle out? My money’s on Armstice, Hector, another Teddy, her dad, and…. I have no idea.
– I was confused with the transition from Dolores wearing her Sweetwater garb to that black dress from the premiere. But then I realized it’s to signify that all those scenes with Bernard were meant to be from the future outside the park; he just saw her in that iconic blue outfit because things weren’t clear to him yet. How confusing yet cool.
– Love the moment where Bernard opens the door, smiles at a brand new world, and steps out.
Digs & Dolores
Maeve: You were both a bit late. So I went ahead and saved myself.
Dolores: (to William) You never really understood. We were designed to survive.
That’s why you built us. You hoped to pour your minds into our form. But your species craves death. You need it. It’s the only way you can renew, the only real way you ever inched forward. Your kind likes to pretend there’s some poetry in that, but really, it’s pathetic.
Dolores: He’s insane.
Bernard: What humans define as sane is a narrow range of behaviors. Most states of consciousness are insane.
Dolores: How many counterfeit worlds will Ford offer you before you see the truth? No world they create for us can compete with the real one.
Dolores: Because that which is real is irreplaceable.
Hale: This is what I love about technology. Who needs four horsemen when one’ll do just fine?
Ford: They’re just algorithms designed to survive at all costs. But sophisticated enough to think they’re calling the shots. To think they’re in control, when they’re really just-
Bernard: The passenger. Then is there really such a thing as free will for any of us? Or is it just a collective delusion? A sick joke?
Ford: Something that is truly free would need to be able to question its fundamental drives.
A thought-provoking season finale packed with gamechanging developments and an emotionally-affecting climax. A perfect finale to a stellar season.