Westworld: 2.06 Phase Space
After the more focused character pieces of the last two weeks, the latest episode of Westworld took a much broader approach to its storytelling, running multiple story threads across the hour with breathless intensity. It was a dizzying affair at times, but still managed to give attention to each key character without feeling too rushed.
Phase Space was an episode that seemed to say goodbye to Shogun World for now but there was still plenty to enjoy before Maeve made it to the fateful homestead where her daughter still lived. The duel between Musashi and the villainous Tanaka was brutal and thrilling, making great use of the samurai premise and allowing the hero to win the day.
I didn't mention last week how gorgeous Shogun World looks too and this week was even more special as a traumatised Akane carried Sakura's bloody heart to the retreat at the foot of the snow-capped mountain. It truly was a place of beauty, a far contrast to the harsh deserts of WestWorld and was a powerful setting for Maeve and her cohorts to say goodbye to her new allies. I hope this isn't the last we've seen of Hiroyuki Sanada's Musashi or Rinko Kikuchi Akane, the latter in particularly developing an intriguing mirror to Thandie Newton's Maeve but they have certainty made their impact nonetheless. At least Armistace mirror Hanaryo carried on the journey, her bow and arrow and cowboy hat making a particularly striking visage.
And after six episodes, Maeve finally made her way back to the homestead and her daughter. But it wasn't the happy reunion she had prayed for; instead the little girl had a new mother, leaving Maeve very much alone. Newton has shone particularly well in recent weeks as the tougher, more powerful Maeve, but it was the heartbreak on her face that was superbly played.
After thanking Lee for his actions in aiding her quest, it was almost disappointing to see him break at the earliest opportunity to signal for help. Kudos then to fellow human 'ally' Lutz, who rushed to her aide when the natives attacked and Maeve was forced to flee with her 'daughter'. I presume the new mum died the same horrific way that Maeve did in previous incarnations? Amid all the drama, what was really interesting was how Maeve's courage and passion had won human and host alike to her side and that even with the power to manipulate, her good nature prevented her from reprogramming her daughter to give herself that happy ending.
The same cannot be said for Delores, whose inner-Wyatt continues to be as ruthless and cold as ever. If Maeve if the host we most feel for, Evan Rachel-Wood's Delores is becoming a more colder, distant figure; it was hard to feel for her as she wavered over the reprogrammed Teddy. Her ruthlessness had destroyed her lover's gentle nature and there was a strong hint that she was regretting those actions.
James Marsden meanwhile, portrayed a much darker version of the cowboy we've seen before, killing the human captive with impunity and seemingly relishing the bloodshed and chaos being left in his and Delores' wake. Driving the train into the tunnel beneath control and causing an explosion, this deadly duo look set to take the fight to the next level.
Talking of control, we saw more of the pieces coming together for the absent future timeline this week. Poor Ashley Stubbs found himself out of his depth when faced with the reinforcements sent in by Charlotte Hale, while Bernard and Elsie digged deeper into the code affecting the hosts and causing the uprising. Bernard entering the central computer uncovered a sinister version of familiar Sweetwater and the surprise appearance of Robert Ford at the end suggested that Ford's death at the end of season one might not have marked the end of Anthony Hopkins' time on the show. Has he uploaded his consciousness into the very computers he has built? Are we going to see him unmasked in a host body, the ultimate villain of season two? It's an intriguing prospect.
We also finally saw some of William's relationship with feisty daughter Grace. For all the family heartbreak, there was a hint of happy family holidays in Raj World, though the reality was that Grace's father had forced her to grow tough following the death of her mother. I never really bought that he would willingly give up the fight to leave with her and there was something bemusing about her waking up with a host guard to find him gone and with him his promises of a family reunited.
With Westworld thundering along into the second half of season two, it feels like the thing are about to be taken to another level. What the end of Maeve's quest means, is the biggest mystery; as the show's MVP, I'm certain she'll have a huge role to play into the rest of the season and beyond. I wonder if we'll see some humanity in Delores once again and what Ford's role is if he is indeed returning. There's still so much to be explored, not least William and Grace's roles in the fight ahead. One thing is for certain; this continues to be the best show on television right now.