No Man in Black this week as we focus on our other three character-led stories, with two of them coming together in a climactic, large-scale battle between man and machine.
We began this week’s episode with an odd, very long cold open. It looks like we’re in India, but on this show it’s just another park. It’s our first look at a park that’s not Westworld – it’s The Raj, aka Colonial India Park. We see a couple get some romance on before going on a tiger-hunting expedition.
Only something goes terribly wrong. The hosts are missing, and some are found murdered. A malfunctioning host mutters the classic phrase, “These violent delights have violent ends,” before murdering the man. The woman manages to fight back, loading a gun and running away. Until the tiger.
It may be poetic justice for the tiger-hunter to become the tiger-hunted as she escapes past the border of the park only to get tackled by the tiger into a lake just as she fires her gun.
That would explain the washed up dead tiger we saw in the flash-forward bit during the premiere. Apparently that woman survived as well, though she was found by the creepy Ghost Nation hosts, who remain a frustratingly enigmatic piece of the puzzle.
Bernard and Hale are back on the move, trying to locate Abernathy. They come across Rebus and his band of jackasses. They’ve captured some humans and plan to sell them off, with a maybe a bit of rape for himself. Hale and Bernard manage to lure him away, knock him out, and reprogram him, making him a chivalrous gunslinger. Teddy, basically, only with Steven Ogg’s always amazing delivery.
It’s darkly humorous seeing the former bandit turn virtuous. He mows down his former compatriots, and get into a big battle with the army who shows up to buy them. Having a capable hacker like Bernard around can be very useful.
Abernathy is among the freed captives, but he’s malfunctioning thanks to the load of information that Hale attempted to smuggle into him. Hale runs off while Bernard and Abernathy are captured by the army and brought to Camp Forlorn Hope, the army base that Delores has arrived in.
Delores arrives at Camp Forlorn Hope, and as usual she has quite the entrance, including a zombie-looking Clementine dragging a soldier as her own army approaches. She brokers a deal with the Colonel, handing him a high-powered submachine gun taken from their previous battle with the Delos security team.
When the prisoners arrive, she meets with both Abernathy and Bernard. There’s a sweet scene between her and her father, who definitely represents a soft-spot in her otherwise callous outlook.
She barely has any time for Bernard, and may have even skipped him entirely had her father not needed help.
Having just been with Hale, Bernard already knows that Abernathy is containing secret information that she desperately wants to get out of the park. But he doesn’t know what it is, and gets to work extracting it, at Delores’ behest.
Delores points out that even Bernard doesn’t know about the outside world like she does, as we saw during last week’s episode.
Hale is on her way to the Fort, having easily met up with the security team (like, really easily) and convinced them to turn around and assault this heavily fortified camp full of rebelling robot cowboys.
The security team attacks, but Delores has a plan. It’s wild event of gunshots and explosions, easily the biggest, most action-packed sequence we’ve had in season two.
The army tires to hold the line but the security team has bullet-proof vests, all-terrain vehicles, and submachine guns. Delores orders the gate shut, trapping most of Colonel’s and Craddock’s men outside. She then orders her own black-masked forces to shoot them all through the door, sealing their fate.
Delores never liked allying with these people. They were a means to an end. Recall an episode or two ago when she told Teddy that not everyone deserved to follow her to freedom.
Delores’ right-hand angel of death Angela blows up the buried bombs, killing everyone outside. Teddy is less-than-enthused at this vicious use of their own people, and Major Craddock is frothing with rage.
She orders Teddy to execute he and the rest of the few surviving soldiers, though he ultimately refuses, and simply lets them escape. That’ll probably come back to bite him in the ass. Delores sees that he’s not quite bought into her ruthless methods.
During the battle Hale launches a stealthy extraction of Abernathy, which almost goes off perfectly until Delores notices them. She goes full Terminator as she approaches Hale and the vehicle, gunshots casually hitting her while she continues forward, murdering people with careless determination as only a machine can. Teddy helps her, but Hale is able to flee with Abernathy.
Bernard is left in the middle of all this chaos. Where before he was a major player in the park, now he’s left scrambling on the ground in the middle of a war. He’s still having his own mental issues when he’s found by creepy Clementine, who knocks him out.
Our Maeve story is wholly disconnected from the crazy fighting at Forlorn Hope. Maeve, Hector, and Lee continue to make their way across the land, coming across more of the creepy Ghost Nation hosts. They give Maeve some brief flashes of PTSD. Hector tries to talk them down, discovering that they want Lee, the human.
Maeve fails at her robo-Jedi Mind Trick and they flee, escaping to a nearby access elevator to descend back down into the depths of the park.
There they find Felix and Sylvester, the comical tech duo from last season, along with Armistice, the bleach-blonde, snake-body tattoo woman. We meet her wielding a flamethrower and torching a poor tech, eliciting the best line of the episode from Hector: “She has a dragon!”
Maeve’s group has swelled to six, an interesting mix of both humans and hosts. She’s decidedly not a homicidal leader bent on conquering the world of humans, and may ultimately prove that not every self-aware host goes down an evil, Delores-fed path.
Her group makes it to the edges of the park in the North, with snow on the ground and a campfire in the distance. Lee finds the severed head of a samurai and begins to freak out, just as we see a sword-wielding figure emerging from the dark to attack Maeve. Samuraiworld, hell yeah!
With Maeve’s story continuing in a neat direction and both Delores’ and Bernard’s story neatly intersecting in a climactic battle, this was by far my favorite episode of the three we’ve had so far in season two.
Delores: Delores is merciless but her plans have all worked out as a result. It costs them dearly but she’s able to defeat a much more advanced force, and appears more threatening than ever, though Hale is able to escape with her father, and the secrets he holds.
More parks: The cold open was a bit too long but I really dug seeing some fun glimpses and teases of the other parks. Plus we already get one answer from the premiere – the tiger mystery, teasing that the other parks are breaking down as well.
Team Maeve: I’m really digging the well-balanced RPG party that Maeve has put together. Lots of diverse personalities, abilities, and skills, not to mention a unique mixture of half humans and half awakened hosts.
Bernard: The scene between he and Delores was delicious, but he was definitely left reeling. Even he didn’t know that Delores had been outside the park, and that she predates the park itself. He’s in a bad place, physically and mentally, and now he’s been captured by zombie Clementine. Poor Bernard.
Teddy: Teddy refusing to execute the men they betrayed is technically a good thing, and he’s able to resist being fully seduced by Delores. Yet letting Craddock simply run away is dangerous as hell and asking for trouble down the road.
Ghost Nation: They didn’t do anything here to deserve the ‘loser’ title, but I’m frustrated with how they’re being used. Right now they’re a weird force we’ve seen several times, always as scary and unknowable, and we’re still not sure where they fit into the bigger narrative. I think we’ll get a reveal at some point this season but for now it’s a bit frustrating.