Westworld delivered a huge finale that took the show in an interesting new direction for the future. Baz Greenland reviews.
If the host uprising that ended season one of Westworld opened the door for a thrilling second act, the second season finale offered a bizarre sense of closure. By the end of the episode, the hosts had been defeated, Maeve had saved her daughter, Akecheta had bee reunited with his lost love and Delores had escaped the fake world for a real world. If this had been it, there would have been a morbid sense of satisfaction, knowing that many events that had led to The Passenger had been tied up.
Fortunately there is a season three which is a great thing for many reasons, not least because Westworld is surely one of the greatest shows currently on television. But while there is plenty set up for the future – not least in Bernard and Delores’s tale – there’s still plenty of storylines that have reached some sort of end; not least because half the cast was dead by the time the credits rolled.
But the fact that the season finale was well and truly a bloodbath shouldn’t stop us from pondering the future of the show and there was plenty to ponder. So where to begin? Well for all the twists, turns, shocks, murders and revelations, the central narrative was relatively straightforward; the hosts, led by Akecheta made their exodus to the Vanishing Point, in search of a new life, while Charlotte Hale and her programmed death trap of a host Clementine, raced to stop them.
As an audience member we were treated to stop truly sumptuous sweeping shots of the arid landscape of Westworld; John Grillo’s stunning cinematography in the show cannot be praised enough. Accompanied by Ramin Djawadi’s phenomenal score, the finale episode was worth watching for the beautiful landscapes alone – this is truly a show to watch in HD on a big screen television. But every set design felt special too; the bright reds of the hidden base had a sumptuous, dangerous feel while the libraries of guest memory data added a richness to the storyline that elevated an already terrific direction and script.
And that scene where Maeve programmed her own rescue, the host bison rampaging through the control centre was just stunning; Frederick E.O. Toye’s stylistic direction really shone through, the slow motion animals charging through the soldiers, impaling them on their horns and the slow motion fall from the balcony, thematically tied to the title sequence were jaw dropping. And of course it was all capped off with Thandie Newton’s electric performance as she greeted her wood be rescuers and announced she had decided to save herself.
But it was also an episode of many layers and you definitely had to pay attention to appreciate it all. Bernard and Delores’s journey into the facility revealed the full magnitude of Ford’s master plan, cataloguing every thought and action of the guests; something she was able to utilise to make her escape. But it also enabled Bernard to open the world to allow the fleeing hosts to escape their human captors.
The race to enter that world was not without its casualties, Lee Sizemore going out in a blaze of glory as he chose the hosts’ lives over his own. Simon Quarterman has really grown this season and his final, passionate speech as he took on the armed guards was terrific, bittersweet fun. There was also great tension as Maeve raced to find her daughter as Clementine arrived like a spectre of death turning hosts against each other in a bloody frenzy.
The mid point of the episode was a rollercoaster of emotions; joy at Maeve finding her daughter and seeing her cross safely to the new world ‘the Sublime’ and the horror as her allies fell to the ravaging horde. Akecheta survived a gun shot to be reunited with long lost love Kohana, surely the episode’s happiest moment, while Maeve proved herself to be a bad ass one final time, freezing the killer hosts before succumbing fatal gunshots and death once more in a real cruel twist of fate.
There is the almost certainty (because Westworld has proven that anyone can be resurrected in host form) that characters like Lee are probably not returning – potentially too Akecheta and Teddy, who Delores eventually uploaded to the Sublime in his original form – but Maeve has survived death many times before. Felix and Sylvester were tasked at the episode’s end with check the hosts for critical damage and bag the ones they might be able to salvage; surely after all they have been through, she will be the first to resurrect, maybe along with the dead Hector, Armistice or Hanaryo who died at her side?
But there is another possibility for Maeve; could her orb be one of those Delores took back to the real world? Let’s talk about the twist. Bernard turned against Delores, supposedly killing her and seemingly tying up the fate of the warrior host that had led the rebellion against humanity. It was tragic but not unexpected, but what followed was. As a tormented Bernard flitted between memories and present – including the shocking murder of Elsie Hughes by Hale – the twist that Hale was now dead and it was Delores wearing her body was a huge jaw dropping moment. Just like season one’s William / Man in Black mystery, this is sure to be a whole new spin on any re-watch of season two. Delores hasn’t been absent from the future narrative at all; she’s just been wearing someone else’s face.
In many ways, Westworld wrapped up much of its narrative by the episode’s end. There were plenty of human deaths but the hosts had been massacred; seemingly the park could now feasibly re-open business as usual? But on the other end of the scale, Delores was now free and the climax saw her back wearing her own body, built in the secret house back in the real world. Bernard too was resurrected while Hale remained; just who she is now remains a mystery for season three.
And then there was the end credit sequence with an older William now revealed as a host and finding himself in the same facility James Delos spent his life relieving with a reanimated daughter for company. Just what this means, is perhaps the biggest mystery for season three and one I can’t wait to explore.
Season two of Westworld certainly delivered on the promise of the first; the host uprising took the show in some surprising new directions. There was scale and grandeur and plenty of bloodshed, but also a surprising intimacy to the stories too; we only had glimpses of Shogun World and Raj World and there are more parks to potentially explore next season. But the show has also moved beyond the park and into the future real world too. The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to continue the ride.
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