Try to Kill It All Away, But I Remember Everything: Westworld, ‘Vanishing Point’

***Spoiler Warning:  Spoilers for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 9 follow. Spoilers***  Last Week

Parallel lines converging, this penultimate hour provides a titular “Vanishing Point” that seemingly brings together pieces of a puzzle, setting up next week’s sure-to-be explosive season finale, but something’s rotten in Den … Westworld. From William (in Black’s) all-encompassing darkness to his depressive wife’s final surrender; with the shocking extermination of his own daughter set against Teddy’s inability to accept the monstrous changes Dolores made in him, humanity’s infectious ugliness rumbles through this jumbled episode. Unexpected consequences toll dreams like lottery winners; happiness this no way lies; there are no winners here — no freedom from pain waits on the other side of consciousness. As William relates in the story of his own unveiling to his soon-to-be-dead wife, the blackness he finds is less of a spreading disease, more uncovering the whole of who he truly was all along and in itself, a parallel to the self-discovery he (and we) expect is yet to come.

Clues to William in Black’s true nature sprinkled throughout the hour — from Ford’s analytical bar discussion, a memory card, and arm digging — the games Ford plays work their way from harried Host to Host. A brazen Billy Pilgrim Bernard wants control of his own destiny, seemingly a(de)fFords himself the opportunity to make his own choices, but is his (Ford’s) narrative drive too strong? The closest he got to having his own children, means a father’s code for self-repair is easily imparted, but to what end? Is the lamented, so-called humanity more a gift or a curse; can Maeve’s maternal instinct give hope where there is nothing but despair? As Dolores is forced to face the consequences of mirroring the despised people who built her world, she unwittingly falls into the trap of that new world she hoped to take as her own.

James Marsden killed it (whoops!) through this whole scene, and Evan Rachel Wood’s reaction to Teddy’s suicide was perfection. It looks like we’ll see more of that during the finale, and I’m so curious if it will inform her decisions hereon out.

The dead pile up, (purported) human and Host alike; if Charlotte has her way, the body count will only rise. Copied code claims Clementine, as she mind-commands a gathered group to kill. Similarly stolen code — guest data — provides fodder for The Forge, a facility where every visitor’s details can be found … and the place all Hosts are headed. With the ghost of Ford fully in control of his final game, it’s anyone’s guess at whether a rigged outcome can be bested. Have any of our most unreliable narrators led us down seemingly converging paths, or will that virtually visual vanishing point all turn out illusion?.

Deep Thoughts:

Among the clues that William in Black — Ed Harris version — is indeed a Host:  the party waitress morphs into Dolores for a few seconds (in his mind); the multiple times Juliet asks, “Are you real?”; of course, WiB cutting into his own arm and wondering if he has choice, if he’s dreaming. Most of all was how Ford interacted with WiB at the bar, the analytical way he dealt with William was exactly as he speaks with Hosts when he’s observing them. There’s a different cadence to his speech than the natural conversation Ford tends to have with humans (i.e. Theresa, Charlotte).

Is The Forge the Valley Beyond, or is the Valley Beyond merely referring to the outside world? Perhaps The Forge is simply “the facility” — Bernard describes; The Forge is larger than the Cradle, where all the guests’ code is “laid bare”. Presumably The Forge is different from the data (human consciousness) on Peter’s Key (in Dolores’ possession). Put it all together and the Key opens The Door to either The Forge or The Valley Beyond. If the Valley Beyond is the outside world, then Dolores may need to get to The Forge, first, do add human data to whatever human consciousness she possesses, and then she can pass to the Valley Beyond.

William in Black tells Emily the scanners that collect guest data are in the black and white hats visitors to the park choose, but if I recall correctly, family members in the resort didn’t always have on one of those hats. Perhaps this male-centric fantasy world didn’t really cater to the women and children’s desire for immortality, nor record their data?

Thandie Newton, acted the hell out of that scene while completely pinned down to a table — I have no words. Against Anthony Hopkins’ amazing and moving monologue, she still managed to be on par. That was a beautiful, heart-breaking scene, and I hope it fuels Maeve’s reckoning. I also really hope we get to see her self-repair.

And, of course, we should all just bow down to Anthony Hopkins, who I could watch do an entire episode in monologue.

Ford references East of Eden (one of Jonathan Nolan’s second season inspirations) with “Timshel [Bernard]” which is Hebrew for “Thou mayest”, letting Bernard know he isn’t doomed to sin or to required to be a saint; he has the power of choice. “You can if you will, but it is up to you.” [Steinbeck]

At William’s opening party, he references Greek historian, Plutarch (Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus), and quotes (“when Alexander was told there was an infinity of worlds, he wept, for he had yet to become the lord of even one.’) from his essay, On the Tranquility of Mind. WiB has a need to conquer Westworld, to get to the end of the game — though, who knows if he ever will, or what darker than he imagined fate he will find for himself if he does.

William in Black stuck his profile memory card between the pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which is told non-linearly, from the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator. Mmm hmm …

His other books include Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Plutarch’s Historical Methods, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and C.P. Jones’ Plutarch and Rome.

Angela Sarafyan continues to devastate with her quiet performance as Clementine. She said not a word, made only very small motions with her body and hands, but her face said everything, even as it remained blank. 

Emily’s back and forth about her father — “It’s not too late for us … I’m going to expose you. I’m going to lock you up, just like we did mom” —  was rather confusing (as is this character, overall). Perhaps it’s just her anger causing conflicting emotions, but her varying warmth and stolid coldness rang odd.

Likewise, most folks seem fine with Juliet’s suicide motivation, but I personally thought it was odd — she’d already screamed at William, expressed that she knew who he really was. Hearing his confession and seeing the video on the memory card was confirmation of what she knew, sure, but for me it didn’t seem enough at that moment to push her over some other edge to suicide Regardless, this was an excellent cameo by the always great Sela Ward.

Was Teddy  merely fighting his own programming, or did the Ghost Nation warrior command him not to kill? A combination of both, perhaps? There was something telling about the look Wahahton gave Teddy.

I feel very uncertain as to what events will actually happen during the finale, other than a William in Black is a Host reveal. We know from previews that Maeve will rise again, and Teddy’s alternate death has yet to take place — but how things will play out, and how the converging stories/viewpoints we’ve seen will all come together, I’m very unsure. What will the future “free” Hosts true first conscious decisions be?

Legion connection; Daniel Midthunder, who plays Ghost Nation warrior Takoda, is Amber Midthunder’s (Kerry) father. (H/T Craig)

Songs This Hour:

The tagline “Try to kill it all away, but I remember everything” is from Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, though the song didn’t play during the episode. The song was also brilliantly covered by Johnny Cash.

Great Lines:

William in Black:  “Plutarch didn’t write that. He wrote that “when Alexander was told there was an infinity of worlds, he wept, for he had yet to become the lord of even one.’

When did it creep in? A tiny fleck of darkness. Was it all in my head? Or in a remnant of a dream?”

Juliet:  “Is this real? Are you real?”

Wanahton to Dolores:  “Deathbringer, we’ve been waiting for you.”

Ford to Bernard:  “I warned you not to trust them, Bernard.”

William in Black to Ford:  “What’s Oz doing without its wizard?

Ford:  “I didn’t break the agreement. It was your little project that did.

Be careful what you wish for.

No, William. I think perhaps one final game>”

Elsie to Bernard:  “If you know something, now is the time to fucking clue me in.”

Bernard:  “Imagine what one host can do with that trove of information. That’s why we need to get there first. To secure it, and leverage it to end all this. Dictate the outcome we want.”

William in Black to Emily:  “Didn’t matter who they said, who they thought they were. We saw underneath all that. We saw inside them, down to the core.”

Juliet to William in Black:  “If you keep pretending, you’re not gonna remember who you are.”

William in Black:  This is sadistic, Robert … Nothing’s stopping me from getting to the end. I make my own decisions, I’m going to destroy this place.

… If the real Emily were here, she’d been extracted.”

Emily to William in Black:  “I’m not a host pretending to be your daughter. I’m your daughter pretending to care about you.”

Ford to Maeve:  “Mankind is poised midway between the gods and the beasts. That may have been true in the Plotinus’ time, but clearly we have fallen quite a bit since then. Oh my dear girl, what have they done to you, Maeve? You learned so much, so fast. A dazzling star, brought so low. I had a different story in mind for you. Waking from the dead … sounding the depths of your own mind. At last riding far away from here to freedom. A tale of escape. I  didn’t want you to suffer here. Look at the creatures you have to share this world with. These men of stone. All this ugliness, all this pain, So they can patch a hole in their own broken code. Sometimes, I felt the only way to endure this world  was to laugh at it. So, I imbued the hosts I made with a worldview that reflected my own. And, of all the Hosts I’ve made, you Maeve, were my favorite. It sin’t easy to contemplate letting your children die. You were as close I I was to having one. Still, I underestimated you. You stayed here in this world to save your child. So have I. I tried to chart a path for you, to force you to escape, but But I was wrong, I should just have opened the door You’ve come so far. There’s so much of your story left to tell It’s a shame to let them end it here. Don’t let them.

Bernard to Ford:  “I’m not going to hurt her again.”

Ford:  “Humans will always choose what they understand over what they do not. But the only animals left in this world are the ones who they subjugated, who curl at their feet or those who learn to flee at the very sound of their approach. There’s nothing in between.”

Bernard:  “Leave me alone, please.”

Ford:  “I merely offer you choices. Timshel, Bernard, Thou mayest. But, remember, this isn’t just about you. There’s the origin of an entire species to consider. We need to open the door.

Bernard:  “Get out of my fucking head. I need you, to let me go, if I”m going to survive. If I”m going to survive, I’m going to do it my way. Not as you, as me.

Ford:  “I can feel you searching for me, fighting me off. No need to struggle Bernard, I’m right here.”

Bernard:  “No, you’ve only brought violence. I can stop this on my own.”

Ford:  “Indeed Bernard, you’re the only one who can stop it. Stop all of it.”.

Bernard to Elsie:  “I had to patch a glitch.”

Elsie:  “Fuck you, Bernard.”

William in Black to Juliet:  “I was shedding my skin.”

William in Black:  “What is a person, but a collection of choices? Where do those choices come from? Do I have a choice?”

Juliet:  “If you keep pretending, you’re not going to remember who you are.”

WiB:  “Were any of these choices ever truly mine to begin with?”

Dolores to Teddy:  “We’ll be the first creatures in this world to make a choice.”

Teddy to Dolores:  “No matter what happens, no matter how much I change, or how much you change me, you’re my cornerstone. You have been since the first time I laid eyes on you. I remember now, I remember everything.

I remember the sound of their voiced, the chill in the room. Mostly I remember you, I was worried you were cold. I wanted to reach out, touch you, protect you. From that day forward I never wanted to leave your side. Which is why this is so hard.

You changed me. Made me into a monster.”

Dolores:  “I made it so you could survive.”

Teddy:  “What’s the use of surviving if we become just as bad as them? I understand now, how this will end, where you will lead us.

… No, I could never hurt you, Dolores. I’ll protect you until the day I die. I’m sorry. I can’t protect you anymore.”

 

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over eight years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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