Westworld Season 2 Episode 9 “Vanishing Point” Recap

Ford’s posthumous influence continues to affect our characters; William sinks to new depths.

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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. Continue reading “Westworld Season 2 Episode 9 “Vanishing Point” Recap”

Westworld Season 2 Episode 8 “Kiksuya” Recap

The mysteries of the Ghost Nations are revealed.

Big, explosive episodes like last week’s are often followed by a much smaller, slower episode. Such is the case with our eighth episode of Westworld season two.

Yet most shows also don’t focus that episode almost entirely on a minor character, diving heavily into the past and answering questions that we didn’t really have in the first place. “Kiksuya” will most likely end up as the weakest episode of the season, and maybe even the series. Continue reading “Westworld Season 2 Episode 8 “Kiksuya” Recap”

Westworld Season 2 Episode 7 “Les Écorchés” Recap

All our story lines come together in a violently explosive episode.

Last week’s episode of Westworld was building toward a major confrontation. This week we witness the startling violence that occurs when our various story lines intersect.

Every single one of our main plot threads is involved in a major event in what was the most action-packed episode of the season. Continue reading “Westworld Season 2 Episode 7 “Les Écorchés” Recap”

Westworld Season 2 Episode 6 “Phase Space” Recap

All of our ongoing story lines play out in a jam-packed episode, with a bombshell ending.

For the first time since the season two premiere we were treated to a packed episode of Westworld featuring all four – nay five – of our ongoing story threads. There’s a lot to unpack here, so once again I’ll break it down by our primary cast of characters.

Man in Black

The Man in Black had the smallest screen time in “Phase Space.” It centered almost entirely around a single scene: the emotional confrontation with his daughter, Grace.

It was humorous, and well within character for MIB to initially assume that his daughter was actually a host. The fact that he didn’t just immediately kill her means he’s not quite certain, however.

It could be construed that his comment about her not liking the elephants in The Raj as a child, and her correcting him, was a form of trying to determine if she’s human or not (or maybe Ford just really did his homework).

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As we expected she wants to bring him home, and get him to give up on his obsession with the park. While he does appear emotionally distraught (a first for the borderline psychopathic MIB), he appears to give in to her request. But we know that was way too easy.

Sure enough the next morning Grace awakens to find daddy already gone, continuing on his mission (and seemingly attacked on the way).

Maeve

We unfortunately wave goodbye to Shogun World this week. Mave and company emerge from the devastation she wrough on the Shogun’s camp with one last piece of business – rescuing her outlaw allies who provided the initial distraction.

She begins to weave her code-magic again only for Musashi to stop her. Instead he formally challenges Tanaka to a duel for their freedom.

What follows is a badass samurai swordfight that ends in the ronin cutting off the sword arm of his foe, and allowing him to commit seppuku. Bloody stuff.

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Maeve’s fully reinstated party travels to the lake, where Akane puts to rest the heart of her adopted daughter. Maeve entreats them to officially join with her, but fails her CHA check. Both Akane and Musasahi decide to stay behind to help their homeland. The archer Hanaryo, who hasn’t had much dialogue nor screen presence, does join up, however.

At the lake they find the corpse chute, which leads to an underground tunnel. From there we fast-forward to our team emerging from a graveyard conveniently just over the hill from Maeve’s old farm land, where she hopes to reunite with her long lost daughter.

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The meeting is less than joyful. There’s a poignant scene where Maeve does find her, but almost immediately suffers from two devastating moments. The first is that the teenager has a different mother (another host who looks similar to Maeve). The second is that the whole thing is interrupted when a small army of Ghost Nation attacks the farmstead, forcing them all to flee.

It’s at this point that Lee takes out the phone he had swiped from before, dialing for help. Felix looks on with disgust, rushing to help Maeve along with the rest of her allies. Oddly we cut away during the middle of this action sequence. We’ll have to wait until our next Maeve episode to see how everyone ends up.

Hale

Charlotte Hale has officially spun off into her own thread now that she separated from Bernard. With this point of view we get a look at her and Ashley Stubbs, chief of park security, as they reach the underground research facility with a captured Abernathy.

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Here at least humans are still in control. Hale gets a message out to Delos confirming that she has Abernathy, which signals them to send Tough Irish Asshole Security Guy, who chewed up scenery with delightful abandon. Poor emasculated Ashley.

The team is back in Westworld HQ in the primary map room. They can’t seem to get the network back under control (more on that later) but they are able to turn that big, nifty holographic map of the park back on. They see a red dot speeding toward the edge of the map – the train.

Delores

Our first look at post-lobotomy Teddy isn’t quite as zombified or robotic as I expected. Instead it’s like he’s suddenly been given weeks of Testosterone boosters and read a self-help book.

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New Teddy is cool, calm, and all swagger. He’s still loyal to Delores despite being fully aware of what she did to him; in fact just about praising her for killing the old, weaker him. She may have gone a bit too far, as evidenced by his casual execution of a human prisoner she was trying to interrogate (old Teddy wouldn’t harm a prisoner).

Delores and her team get on the train at Sweetwater and take off. We’re not sure where the train leads but we do know that the show has been using the train to bring people to and from the park, so presumably they are headed for either the park entrance, or a central unit. Perhaps the Cradle?

Bernard

Bernard’s story continues to be one to one of the trippiest, most intriguing of the bunch. He and Elsie make it to the Mesa, and Elsie discovers why the remaining park staff and security haven’t been able to shut anything down – the CR4DL won’t let them.

The Cradle is the park’s backup hive-mind of all the hosts’ AI programs. It can’t be accessed remotely, so Bernard offers to jack himself in, literally letting a machine extract his brain-thing so he can jump inside the virtual Matrix world. I told you it was trippy!

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The craziness doesn’t end there. We see Bernard go through what looks like the familiar opening moments of Season 1 era Westworld, getting off the train at Sweetwater and even brushing past Teddy as he walks into the bar.

There he grounds to a halt as he recognizes the piano player: Robert Ford, who welcomes him as a friend. More Anthony Hopkins, huzzah!

Winners

Ford Returns!: As I casually predicted in the episode 4 recap, that human imprint/brain that Bernard secretly had crafted (under Ford’s control) was Ford’s all along! This would allow him to upload himself into the Cradle network, and let him pull the strings even after his death. Having him play such a major role in the second season even after his death during the season one finale is perfect.

Father and daughter: MIB hasn’t had much going for him this season, despite a nice semi-redemptive action sequence. The emotional scene between he and his estranged daughter was exactly what he needed. It also provided further context for Grace as well. Hopefully she hunts him down quickly as they’re both better together.

Samurai Showdown: This whole scene was freaking awesome. I’m so sad to see Shogun World go but I’m stoked we got as much of it as we did.

Felix: How fucking cool is Felix? Dude has long been a dorky champion, and one of the few decently normal human folks on the show who’s just trying to survive all of this. The fact that he races toward Maeve, gun-in-hand, when she’s in danger speaks volumes of how far he’s come.

Losers

Ashely: Ouch. Our poor security chief hasn’t exactly had a great couple of days (as eloquently pointed out by Hale). Then he gets verbally dressed down by a bigger security dude who could probably crush with him just his mustache. Ashley isn’t quite as callous and cold-hearted as his compatriots, however, and could prove the Teddy to Hale’s Delores.

Maeve: I adore Maeve but she has two glaring weaknesses: her daughter, and the Ghost Nation tribe that attacked them. She faced both this week and her instincts were to flee, despite taking down a whole army of Samurai last week. Hopefully Maeve can resolve her fears and her connection to her host-daughter and be the robo-heroine that Westworld definitely needs.

Musings

  • What was up with that cold open between Delores and Bernard/Arnold? We’re lead to believe from the premiere that it was a scene from the past, between Arnold and Delores, foreshadowing Delores’ rise to prominence and power. But in this week’s episode she turns the tables, freezing his motor functions and forcing him to sit down. Is this a dream of Delores’? Is it a scene yet to come between her and Bernard? Hmmmm.

Westworld Season 2 Episode 5 “Akane No Mai” Recap

Maeve levels up her abilities in Shogunworld, while Delores makes a final decision on Teddy.

No more fun teases – Shogunworld is finally here! In this week’s episode of Westworld Team Maeve has been captured by a mysterious group of Japanese outlaws who are not-so-coincidentally familiar to her own posse, while Delores makes her final decision on what to do with Teddy. Continue reading “Westworld Season 2 Episode 5 “Akane No Mai” Recap”

Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 “The Riddle of the Sphinx” Recap

Bernard and William are haunted by the past.

Last week’s action-packed shootout was a difficult act to follow. By leaning heavily on the creepy sci-fi underpinnings the fourth episode of season two comes off just as strong, and at the same time gives Westworld‘s weakest character an awesome new twist. Continue reading “Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 “The Riddle of the Sphinx” Recap”

Westworld Season 2 Episode 3 “Virtù e Fortuna” Recap

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.

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Bernard

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

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.

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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.

Maeve

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!”

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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.

Winners

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.

Losers

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.