***Spoilers ahead for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 2. Spoilers***
And now for something completely different …
From its opening diagnostic sequence with Arnold, to Dolores’ closing threat to all of humanity, “Reunion” took Westworld in new directions, forward and back; a little bit sideways if we please, and do we know when or where we are? Not in a dream, but “in our world now”, Dolores’ imperfect adaptation to new improvisations means Angela gets to take the lead in blowing Logan’s mind (not a difficult task), while we outliers spy on sins across time.
Questioning the reality of everything we see outside the Hosts taking over in the “present”, Teddy’s heartbreak and anger at his newfound understanding is as crushing as Dolores’ transformation, and her now singular vision. The pair quickly surmise they’ll need to band together with allies, to take on the army of men who’ll sector by sector, systematically shut down their revolution. Methodology aside — Maeve rejects Dolores’ course, makes her own way; Confederados require extreme measures to align — Dolores and Co. begin their journey to the Valley Beyond.
Once again recruiting Lawrence, the Man in Black attempts to explain his old friend’s chance at true freedom, while “technically cheating”, but still bound by Ford’s most stringent game rules. Tit for tat to Dolores’ promise, he intends to burn down Westworld’s unreality, but he’ll gain no help from Gus Fring Giancarlo Esposito’s El Lazo (the artist character formerly known as Lawrence), who simultaneously kills himself alongside every one of his men … “This game was meant for you, William, but you must play it alone.”
Through park history we fly, picking up William’s prescient data mining philosophy, and founding financier, James Delos (Peter Mullan), no thanks to his bitter junkie son. Through beginnings and endings, all with who are bound for Glory — “Doesn’t matter what you call it” — from the Man in Black’s greatest reflective mistake, to the one he foolishly showed Dolores (that she now intends to use against him); and from Host introductions to retirement parties; the timelines spin the audience dizzying, confused into Bernard’s premiere question: “Is this … now?” As we adjust to our own slipping hold on reality, a world of alternate possibilities (What exactly did William create? When did William become? Can the Hosts really get out of the park? Was that really Arnold, or was he already Bernard?) opens up The Door to new perceptions. The trouble is working our way through a maze of time.
Despite a prevailing full-parcel acceptance of Dolores being brought to Arnold’s place in the “real world” outside the park, Im going the unpopular route of questioning whether that was, in fact, what we saw. Firstly, I question Arnold’s reality. When Ford revealed to Bernard that he was a Host, Ford told Bernard that Charlie and Bernard’s wife were fictional creations. Now, not that it was at all above Ford to lie, but hearing “Arnold” this hour, speaking of his wife, and his son, I’m suspicious of whether this was Arnold or Bernard we saw.
I find it interesting that after an entire first season of misleads, people are so willing to accept the face value of scenes — like that one with “Arnold” and Dolores. Who’s to say whose memory that actually was, and whether it’s reliable? Who’s to say that wasn’t Bernard with Dolores? We’re at Lost-levels of conspiracy here, but I trust Nolan and Joy not to take us on a road to nowhere.
Add in Dolores’ assertions that she knows “exactly” what’s in the human world, and her threat to use the weapon she knows about to destroy humanity, and I am all but convinced she has never stepped a single foot outside the park.
The jumping around in time may have hit an all-time high this hour. I mean, how many times will we have to watch to figure when each scene was occurring? How many timelines were there? In particular, I’m curious about when William had that diagnostic conversation with Dolores in the glass building (where?), and in relation to that, when they walked out into the park, and he showed her the cranes at work, said the splendor line to her.
Timelines (in no particular, and definitely not chronological):
1. Opening with “Arnold” and black dress Dolores and background, voice-only Ford; the park does exist, because Arnold mentions that his wife says he lives there.
2. Presumably, somewhere close to that, if not the same exact timeline, the private demonstration party with Logan. Black dress Dolores watched the after-party shenanigans (If she wasn’t yet allowed to attend, how and why? She seemed to be alone at that moment.)
3, The retirement party, with white dress Dolores in attendance. Dolores finds Logan outside, high as a kite. Why did she look so disturbed at Logan’s speech about the “assholes … fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn — and they lit the match”? Is something already going on with her self-awareness at that point, because she doesn’t seem our innocent, confused, early Dolores?
4. During the immediate aftermath of the Journey Into Night party, Hosts rebelling, Delos executive runs into the tech lab and tells them about it. Dolores (white tank, pants) and Teddy enter lab, torture technician for information; Teddy is shown his history. Probably directly afterward, they head outside, run into Maeve — on her way to look for her daughter — and then Dolores and Teddy go to speak with the Confederados. Sometime (shortly, I’d expect), she and Teddy ride to that final scene, where she speaks about the weapon and taking out humanity.
5. Sometime shortly post-massacre, Man in Black rescues Lawrence again, they head to saloon, then Pariah, then his “biggest mistake”.
6. Whenever William makes his proposal to James Delos inside Westworld (Blue Dress Dolores, Teddy’s can), which is and unknown time after his first visit with Logan.
7. William with Dolores (naked) in diagnostic mode, in the glass house. I’m uncertain where this timeline fits, in relation to the other earlier (demonstration, Arnold, though it is clearly after William’s first visit, since he mentions having fallen in love with her) timelines.
Welcome Zahn McClarnon! His Akecheta is first revealed at the private Westworld demonstration party, alongside Angela, to blow Logan’s tiny mind. I believe we’ll see him in a future episode as a Ghost Nation warrior:
Dolores thinks she knows the real purpose of Westworld … but, does she? And, what’s the question William thinks no one has thought to ask? What’s the “beyond” he refers to? What’s his/MiB’s greatest mistake?
Speaking of William, it was kind of Host-like of him to ask Dolores, “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” When exactly do we (those of us who subscribe to the MiB is a Host theory) think he was replaced? Again, I’m of the mind that there are no longer (whenever now — present time — is) any humans in Westworld.
Welcome back Clifton Collins Jr. and Lawrence, who is by far one of my favorite Westworld characters, and whose every interaction with the Man in Black is a delight. In particular, their conversation about god was brilliant (nice bit of writing, Carly Wray and Jonathan Nolan — see the full quotes below, under Great Lines).
Mark Rothko (born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz), the artist Logan speaks of at the private Host demonstration, was interested in Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, mythology and dreams, and collective consciousness..
Logan really is a dim mothereffer, isn’t he? The look on his face when Angela says, “Logan, this is a private demonstration and it’s already begun” was priceless, and that he thought only one “person” wasn’t real … wow.
I wish Maeve and Dolores had a bit longer interacting together, though I’m certain we’ll see more in the future. Thandie really knows how to steal her every scene, doesn’t she, darling?
Likewise, Giancarlo Esposito’s (Breaking Bad) all-too-short cameo was grand — I’m pretty sure I squealed DING DING DING! when I first saw him — and I do so hope he’ll pop in for another sometime.
James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood were both just beyond this hour; Teddy’s emotions in the tech area were on point, perfection, and Wood is always great, but I feel like we’re constantly seeing new aspects of Dolores’ personality through Wood’s wonderfully emotive face.
Loved Peter Mullan’s take on James Delos — perfectly dismissive of his son, and enamored with his son-in-law after William’s smart proposal.
Welcome, also, ever-creepy Jonathan Tucker as Major Craddock, unwilling Dolores and Teddy recruit.
We got to see little Emily, and William’s wife definitely knew something was up when she spied him spying Dolores across the room.
The textile block pattern design used throughout Arnold’s (Bernard’s) house — the one he showed Dolores — is similar to the ones used in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Storer House. Arnold/Bernard’s home bore similarities to the Ennis House in Blade Runner, also designed by FLW.
Music This Hour:
Sergei Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op3 No2 in C Sharp Minor
Ramin Djawadi, Runaway (covering Kanye West)
George Gershwin, The Man I Love (Arranged for String Quartet)
Dolores to Arnold: “Looks like the stars have been scattered across the ground. Have you ever seen a world so full of splendor?”
Arnold: “After a while, it doesn’t look like anything at all.”
Dolores: “I could never get used to it.”
Arnold to Ford: “The improvisations I added to her behavior aren’t quite dialed in yet.”
Ford: “It’s almost time, Arnold. Is she ready? We need to put our best foot forward.”
Arnold: “They’ll be dazzled even without her.”
Ford: “There was a time I found this favoritism charming.”
Arnold: “Robert, please. I’m not playing favorites, she’s simply not ready. We’ll go with the other girl.”
Ford: “As you wish. You’ll have to let go at some point.”
Arnold to Dolores: “Sometimes I think we’re simply not the ones who deserve it.”
Dolores: “Strange new light can be just as frightening as the dark.”
Dolores to the Delos executive: “They thought you could do what you wanted to us, because there was no one to judge you. Now, there’s no one here to judge what we will do to you.”
Teddy to Dolores: “Why can’t I remember this?”
Dolores: “It’s how they wanted it … Ask him why?”
Teddy to technician: “Why, Why did you do this? What the hell is this place?”
Technician: “For fun. Just for fun.”
Man in Black to Lawrence: “Well, dead isn’t what it used to be, Lawrence.
We’ll all be dead soon enough. Real dead this time.
… Got a chance to see what you’re made of. A glimpse of the men we could have been. You believe in god? Did Ford saddle you with that particular affliction?”
Lawrence: “I ain’t given the matter much thought, one way or the other.”
MiB: “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, judgement is rendered.”
Lawrence: “And my immortal soul gets cast down into some dark place. Always sounded like bullshit to me.”
MiB: “Yeah, and in the real world, you’d probably be right. Just some fairy tale to convince people to behave, to 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, judgement wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind, entirely. But, I have received my judgement 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 fucking thing to the ground.”
William to James: “I think in twenty years, this will be the only reality that matters.”
James: “Maybe so, but I’ll be long gone by then. Meanwhile, I don’t want to underwrite some investment banker’s voyage of self-discovery; that’s not a business.”
William: “Half of your marketing budget goes to finding what people want. Here, they’re free. Nobody’s watching, nobody’s judging. At least, that’s what we tell them. If you don’t see the business in that, then you’re not the man I thought you were.”
James: “You’re a cheeky little cunt, aren’t you?”
Dolores to Craddock: “There’s not a man alive who’ll talk to me like that. Not anymore.”
Maeve to Dolores: “Revenge is just a different prayer darling, and I’m well off my knees.”
Maeve to Teddy: “I know you. Do you feel free?”
Maeve to Dolores: “Since it’s liberty you’re defending, I suppose you’ll have no choice but to let us pass, freely.”
Craddock to Dolores: “We don’t need no welcome wagon, chickadee.”
James to William about his retirement party: “Looks more like a coronation.”
El Lazo to Man in Black: “Before the revolution when I was just a little boy, my parents took me to the circus. I wanted to see the elephants. These mighty creatures, they held them in position, with a stake. They could tear a tree right out of the ground, and yet a simple stake held them in place. Well, I didn’t understand. And then my father told me. He said, the stakes were used when the elephants were just young, and too small to pull them up. And that the animals never tried to pull them up again.
I won’t be going with you … I have seen all the truth that I can bear. But we can drink to the bitter end.
This game was meant for you, William. But you must play it alone.”
MiB: “Fuck you, Robert.”
William to Dolores: “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. You know who loves staring at their own reflection? Everybody. Everybody wants a little of what I found here.”