The penultimate episode of Westworld season two dives heavily into William’s past, revealing the drama surrounding his wife’s suicide and transforming the Man in Black into an even more intensely unlikable and borderline pointless character.
If you’ve been keeping up with my recaps, you know I’m not exactly a big fan of MIB’s storyline in season two. After discovering the maze wasn’t for him but for the hosts in season one, the Man in Black has been left with little to do throughout the sophomore season.
His story picked up a bit when his grown daughter suddenly showed up about halfway through the season, giving me hope that she would inject some interesting narrative developments into his arc.
Well, so much for that.
Grace, the daughter, nurses her father back to heath by heading to a rally point, which appears to be a small campsite with modern medical supplies. She’s fired off a flare, alerting QA to their position, but William is in no shape to flee. Instead, it’s time to pick the scab of their past.
Much of the episode revolves around a pivotal moment – the suicide of William’s wife, Juliet. I believe this is our first time seeing his wife in the series, played by Sela Ward.
She appears to be a semi-functioning alcoholic, a bit of an embarrassment for husband William and daughter Grace. During a black tie party Dr. Ford tosses William his profile – a storage drive the size of a credit card that has stored everything he’s ever done in the park, which is a whole lot of bad stuff.
Delos has profiles for every single person who visits the park (apparently scanned via the hats they provide people?) as part of their plan to exploit this information, mostly by implanting the profile imprints into hosts.
When they leave the party Juliet has it out with William, calling him out for living a double life at the park. Despite her dropping some serious truth bombs, William comes off as sympathetic, particularly as he and his daughter have a close, positive relationship. Grace even suggests involuntarily committing her own mother, as she’s previously resisted treatment.
William puts her to bed, and casually hides his profile card in a stack of books. He thinks she’s passed out and confesses that yeah, he’s a pretty fucked up guy who gets his rocks off at the park.
He leaves and Juliet immediately digs out the profile and loads it up, confirming her fears. She places the card into an old music box that Grace later finds, and proceeds to overdose on pills (I though the whole bathtub thing was a reference to slitting wrists, but we see an empty pill bottle instead of blood).
It’s a hugely traumatic moment for William’s family, but not terribly shocking for the rest of us. Season one’s twist already explained how William became pretty fucked up when it comes to the park. There wasn’t even a big moment or answer as to why; William just makes vague references to having a darkness within him.
The most important thing these flashbacks explain is how and why Grace found him. She found his profile that her mother had left her, and has taken on the mission to find her father and bring him, and the park, to justice.
Unfortunately, she vastly underestimated just how fucking crazy her father has become.
QA arrives, guns drawn. They immediately recognize Man in Black as “the boss,” despite William having nothing to do with the company or infrastructure for the entirety of his present-day story throughout season one and two.
William overpowers the closest guard, grabbing his gun and killing the rest of them, much to his daughter’s horror. Up until then she’s only seen him kill hosts, not actual people.
She begins to understand how fucked he is, but it’s too late. He’s still under the delusion that she herself is a host, sent by Ford to fuck with him. She even called him out on it earlier, admonishing him for thinking the entire park was tailor made for him. Grace is all of us.
Desperate she fishes around for the profile to prove she is his daughter, but he guns her down. William murders his own fucking daughter, the only decent element in his entire storyline.
He sees his mistake almost instantly, noting his profile in her bloody hands. Sometime after leaving the site he gets off his horse and holds a gun to his head, but he can’t bring himself to do it. He’s delusional, but not suicidal. Instead he begins to dig into his own arm with a knife, thinking that maybe he’s the actual host.
I have no idea where they’re going with this or how his story will mesh with the main plot in any meaningful way. Was honestly hoping he would’ve just offed himself right then and we could be done with it.
MIB’s story took up most of the episode, but we did briefly check in with our other three character as well. Bernard stops by to leave a message from Ford to Maeve, which comes down to a sappy Don’t Give Up speech eloquently delivered by the always scene-stealing Anthony Hopkins.
Ford seems to legitimately care about Maeve, whom he claims as his favorite. But with Bernard he’s manipulative, dismissive, and a total dick. When Bernard and Elsie are out searching for weapons after leaving the Cradle, he suggests that they kill Elsie before she betrays them.
To his credit, Bernard is having none of this. Whether he’s resisting Ford’s influence or he had the choice all along is debatable, but he throws the gun and jacks a tablet into his arm, manually searching for Ford’s presence. From what we can tell he finds and deletes the rogue package, and Ford disappears.
However, Bernard still doesn’t trust himself. He opts to leave an upset Elsie, which is probably the best thing to do for both of them.
Finally, we check in with Delores and Teddy. Her crew has been greatly diminished since the attack on the Cradle. They’re stopped on route to the Valley Beyond by Ghost Nation, sans Akecheta. Ghost Nation won’t let her past, and Delores isn’t exactly going to take no for an answer.
A battle breaks out. Delores’ side has guns but she still loses most of her crew. Teddy is told to take out stragglers but he can’t bring himself to kill the last one, a sign that Delores’ forced reprogramming isn’t quite holding together.
Later they share a scene where Teddy reveals how much he loves her, despite the horrible things she’s done to him and others. He remembers her face as one of the first things he ever saw when he first came online. He could never bring himself to harm her.
Instead, he shoots himself in the head.
It’s an emotionally complex moment. On the one hand we love Teddy and hate Delores, so this feels like righteous justification. Her shock and horror at his suicide is pure schadenfreude. But on the other hand – poor Teddy! This was his only way out of a truly awful situation that Delores had put him in. RIP sweet prince, you deserved much better.
Bernard: Poor Bernard has been controlled by Ford throughout his entire existence. Whether or not he successfully resists Ford or Ford simply lets him go is debatable, but either way it’s commendable that Bernard doesn’t want to be a violent tool any longer, and does what he can do excise Ford.
Teddy: When characters die they usually get shuffled into the Losers column. Teddy’s death wasn’t exactly a blaze of glory, but it was a righteous fuck you to Delores, despite still loving her in the end.
Man in Black: A frequent visitor to the Loser’s column, William manages to prove himself an even bigger horrible bastard than usual. He had one solid moment with Lawrence’s family a few episodes ago, but he’s back to being a total shit head this week, murdering Delos employees and culminating in the murder of his own daughter.
- Ford’s complex influence hangs heavily on most of our characters this week. He’s sweet and supportive of Maeve, but controlling and mentally abusive to Bernard. You could also make an argument that it was Ford that fucked up William’s family, by handing him his profile and saying something to the effect of “One last game to play.” Has ever a dead character had such a big impact?
- We saw Teddy’s dead body among the mass of drowned hosts back in the premiere and assumed that was his cause of death, giving his suicide here an interesting little twist.