After last week’s exploration of the events immediately following the Westworld host uprising – and a short leap ahead, with untold mysteries sandwiched between – “Reunion” offers some juicy hints at the park’s real purpose, and how it ties into the journeys of both Dolores and the Man in Black.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) ride off into the sunset… sorta. Photo: John P. Johnson (HBO)
We open with a familiar exchange of phrases in a very unfamiliar setting, at least for Westworld. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) isn’t “in a dream” this time, she’s in “our world” – a modern city (possibly China) lit up at night. It’s a way-back flashback, with Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) and a heard-but-not-seen Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) preparing to dazzle a potential investor with their incredible invention. Dolores isn’t quite ready to represent the project, at least in Arnold’s fatherly estimation, so Angela (Talulah Riley) is tasked with the job instead.
That important early investor, of course, is Logan (Ben Barnes) – full name Logan Delos – who makes his triumphant return to the show bragging about the $60 million Warhol painting he’s situated on his ceiling, so “you can look at it while you fuck”.
But even crass, repulsive Logan knows something astonishing when he sees it, such as a room full of robots that are completely, utterly indistinguishable from human beings. “We’re not… here.. yet,” he sputters. But we are here indeed, and after a roll in the hay with the gorgeous Angela (this is Logan we’re talking about, after all), he’s more than ready to support Ford and Arnold’s project.
Less convinced, albeit with much deeper pockets: Logan’s father, James Delos (Peter Mullan). In a scene that’s obviously later than the Angela encounter, as well as past the season one “Man in Black’s first visit” storyline, James and his son-in-law William (Jimmi Simpson) visit Sweetwater’s main drag, with all the hosts (including Dolores, still in her “oops, I dropped my can!” loop) in frozen mode.
James is reluctant to fork any more of his family’s money over to Westworld. He isn’t interested in the future or fantasies and “I don’t want to underwrite some investment banker’s voyage of self-discovery”. Fair enough. But William points out that “this is the only place in the world where you get to see people for who they really are”. The information they could gather on Westworld’s guests is priceless, and they don’t even have to tell them they’re doing it.
We got a glimpse of where that led in last week’s premiere, with the reveal that Westworld’s been snatching DNA samples from human guests as well as the Hosts’ memories of their encounters. We don’t know why, precisely, but now we know that William had everything to do with it.
In the later storyline, old William, AKA the Man in Black (Ed Harris), rescues his favourite sidekick, the outlaw Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr), from the jaws of death for the zillionth time. Like the stable boy we met last week, Lawrence hasn’t shifted into kill-crazy mode; he’s still an aw-shucks type who doesn’t get the MiB’s references to Ford or “the real world”. But he’s there to witness the MiB’s little speech about how people visit Westworld because it’s a place to commit terrible sins without any consequences. Or so they thought.
“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.” WHAT DID YOU HAVE IN MIND, PRAY TELL? Nah, the show isn’t going to come out with it just yet. It does let MiB continue, though:
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, I’m gonna appeal the verdict, and then I’m gonna burn this whole fuckin’ thing to the ground.
The MiB figures he needs a posse to accompany him on his quest, and the always-great Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Once Upon a Time) shows up for one killer scene as El Lazo, an outlaw that the MiB would like to have on his side.
But lest we forget who’s still pulling the strings from beyond the grave, Ford speaks through the outlaw to tell him “This game was meant for you, William, but you must play it alone.” (Then, El Lazo and his entire gang blow their own brains out. Brutal. Lawrence is spared, because “I see you in the valley beyond with him”.) The MiB’s weary response: “Fuck you, Robert.”
Dolores visits “our world”. Photo: John P. Johnson (HBO)
Interestingly, it seems as though the Westworld hosts were removed from the park from time to time in its earlier era, and not just to drum up funding. Dolores turns up to play piano – no player piano this week, unless that counts; earlier, we also see Clementine behind the keys at Logan’s investment demonstration – at James Delos’ swanky retirement party, where we also see William’s ill-fated wife and daughter.
It’s suggested that James is in poor health, but the really messed-up one is Logan. He’s high as a kite (complete with track marks) when Dolores encounters him on the edge of the festivities, muttering about “what they’re really celebrating up there” and hinting at the end of days for the human race and that it’s all their doing. “May your forever be blissfully short,” he tells Dolores. Logan’s clearly in on the secret purpose behind the park. Perhaps he was pushed out of the company because of his own misdeeds there?
This week’s other storylines offer far less intrigue, but there are some choice moments sprinkled throughout. Teddy (James Marsden) – poor ol’ Teddy – finally got a glimpse of the horrifyingly gory personal history he was previously programmed to forget. (He took it pretty well, all things considered.)
Dolores, having seen the “real world” and knowing “the real purpose of this place” is the only host who understands what they’re up against, and by God, she’s decided she’s the leader of this revolution. (Except, she’s killed God, as she tells a host when she’s forcing him to join her army.)
But there’s one host who isn’t buying into Dolores’ leadership: Maeve. While Dolores is laser-focused on fighting for the hosts’ future world domination, Maeve is obsessed with the past and wants to find the daughter she can’t stop thinking about. She’s just as powerful as Dolores, but she has her own battles to fight, though she can’t resist taking Dolores down a peg over her obsession with “freedom” and being the Queen Bee of Westworld.
“Yours is the only way to fight,” Maeve observes, wryly. “You feel free to command everybody else.”
Hello, lovelies. Photo: John P. Johnson (HBO)
These two are going to clash eventually, and it’s going to be epic.
As if we weren’t already racking our minds about what, exactly, Delos was secretly doing behind the scenes, Westworld threw out a fresh brain-burner to torment us. The valley beyond that Dolores keeps nattering on about? It isn’t a place. It’s a weapon of some kind. William showed it to Dolores years ago, and she never forgot. To the Man in Black, it’s the “place of judgement” and also “my greatest mistake”, a place to answer “the question no one’s ever dreamed of asking”. I paused the moment we get a glimpse of it, as I’m sure everyone else did, and uh, it didn’t look like anything to me.