Westworld: 2.09 Vanishing Point
This week's episode of Westworld may not have quite had the emotional heart of last week's terrific Kiksuya or the twists and turns of the previous Les Écorchés, but it still managed to set up the season finale in style. There were some deeply emotional moments that will sure;y resonate into the finale with the deaths of two characters certainly impacting the in-going plot.
In Vanishing Point the focus switched back to Ed Harris' William, AKA The Man in Black. While the flashbacks to the death of his wife Juliet (Sela Ward) didn't offer anything hugely revelatory, they did enrich the relationship between William and his daughter Grace (Katja Herbers) who we learned had long supported her father over her drunk of a mother.
In Juliet, we saw a woman who had lived with a man whose heart was black, who found his passion in the made up Westworld than real low life. That darkness came to a head when she pretended to sleep, luring William into revealing the truth about himself. Confronted with the reality of the monster she had married and uncovering evidence of his brutal and sadistic actions in Westworld, the pain was too great and she killed herself.
But Grace was also a victim here. Even when betrayed by her father she still chose to try and force a reconciliation, the flashback strengthing the bond between them. But it was his iron will and madness that was his undoing; fuelled by the belief that any human in the park was actually a host built by Ford as part of an elaborate game, he gunned down their would be rescuers. And then in a shocking turn of events, he killed Grace too, only learning too late that she knew his secrets not because she had been programme by Ford but had read the same evidence that led her mother to suicide.
The other big death belonged to Teddy. This had been teased with a glimpse of his broken body in the future narrative, but the nature of what happened bore startling parallels to William. At the core of Teddy's personality was his good nature and love for Delores; her decision to alter that personality to make him stronger and more ruthless did the one thing she hadn't expected. Teddy saw in his love a woman that had become a cold, violent monster and with that knowledge he couldn't go on. Like William, Delores learned her mistake too late, the horror on her face as he killed himself heart-breaking, her actions that leading to his demise.
It was a delight to have Anthony Hopkins back as Ford, having a lot of fun as the dark conscience in Bernard's mind as he forced his 'friend' to abandon Elsie for threat of betrayal. More intriguing was his scene with the imprisoned Maeve, revealing that she was his favourite and he had guided her every step towards self awareness and escape. If Delores was Arnold's proudest creation, than Maeve was Ford's. And while she looked set to die at the commands of Charlotte Hale, there was hope that Ford's consciousness was able to give her a gift to continue her story. I certainly hope so, because Thandie Newton is the greatest performer on the show of very talented actors.
There were some intriguing developments too in Charlotte Hale's agenda and William's path. Using a reanimated (and continually underused) Clementine to activate the hosts and turn them into a blood thirsty rampage upon one another was shocking to watch. William's 30 years of cataloguing human behaviour continued the intriguing premise of the entire park being a huge psychological experiment (I'm not convinced on the whole hats to scan clients though) and I'm curious to see where his master plan culminates in the finale.