WESTWORLD Season 2 Episode 2 Review [Spoilers] – The Valley Beyond
FULL SPOILERS FOR WESTWORLD SEASON 2 EPISODE 2 [REUNION]
Today’s episode of Westworld titled ‘Reunion‘ jumps around a tonne to a number of different characters and a number of different time periods, all of which take place before the arrival of Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) in last weeks episode. Where last episode was more of a cleanup of season 1 this episode kicks off a number of storylines and gives us some further insight into what William’s and Dolores’ (Ed Harris and Evan Rachel Wood) individual journeys are going to be this season. This episode introduces us to how hosts have been used in the real world and we also get a couple of answers in this episode regarding the true nature of Delos’ investment in the park. As there is a tonne of jumping around I’m going to discuss the episode in sections, same as last week.
Arnold (Before Delos investment)
Like last week, the episode opens with a sequence between Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores, only this time they’ve done away with the different aspect ratio to signify a very distant flashback. The scene opens with out first look at a host in the real world as Arnold and Ford have bought her there to prepare for a presentation of sorts. After a brief discussion between Dolores and Arnold, Ford walks in, assumedly still being played by Anthony Hopkins, and Arnold informs him that Dolores isn’t ready and they’ll go with the other girl. Arnold takes Dolores for a walk to his future house where I’m assuming he aims to inspire some more natural conversation in her. After they talk a little about his son Charlie it’s clear that Dolores’ ability to improvise a normal conversation isn’t there yet as she repeats the same quote she mentioned earlier.
“Looks like the stars have been scattered across the ground. Have you ever seen anything so full of splendour?” – Dolores.
Logan (Before Delos investment)
For the first time this season we catch up with Logan (Ben Barnes) where in this first scene it is revealed that his last name is Delos. This sequence is definitely before his first visit to Westworld and also prior to Delos’ investment in the park, clearly due to the events that unfold. He is paid a visit by a man by the name of Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and a familiar host we’ve seen before; Angela (Talulah Riley) and taken to a private demonstration to witness the realism of Westworld’s hosts. He’s instructed to walk through the crowd and pick out the single host, he seems to have figured it out and is amazed that it is in fact Angela. But then his mind is further blown when the twist is revealed and it turns out that he’s the only real person in the room. Dolores is one of the hosts in the room and this is clearly the presentation Arnold and Ford were discussing in the opening scene, “the other girl” being Angela.
It seems that this is the moment that Logan gets his father to first invest or show an interest in Westworld and the future possibilities it holds.
William (After his first Westworld visit)
With a few more jumps back in time we finally get to see exactly what became of William (Jimmi Simpson) after his first journey through Westworld in season 1. First we see a helicopter arrive in Sweetwater where William disembarks and we get our first introduction to Logan’s father; James Delos (Peter Mullan) who is getting a first hand look at what Westworld has to offer. In this scene William is trying to get James to realise the future potential of Westworld and invest fully into the park. As William has now given in to his evil self he sells James on the idea that whilst guests are in Westworld they reveal who they really are and commit acts under the impression that no-one is watching and no-one will judge. Also that they can use this park as an opportunity to spy on the guests and gather information that will then most likely be used for shady purposes. So now we have a pretty clear explanation for why Delos is so invested in Westworld and it also reveals why the drone hosts were logging guest experiences in the last episode. As it turns out, what happens in Westworld definitely doesn’t stay in Westworld.
A little later in the episode we take a visit to what appears to be James Delos’ retirement party at which Dolores has been hand picked as the entertainment for the night, playing the piano. Later in the night Dolores takes a walk outside where we see what has become of Logan since we last saw him at the end of season 1. It turns out he’s taken a fall from grace and has resorted to drugs after William probably stole his role in the company after returning home.
Very late in the episode we see William bringing Dolores back online in the facility beneath Westworld and starts exclaiming that he can’t believe he fell in love with her and in his evil ways begins taunting her. He tells Dolores that he believes there’s an answer in Westworld to a question that no-one has ever dreamed of asking. He takes her to the park where there are diggers making way for a new location, one that may come to be known in the future as “the valley beyond”, and one the future version of William refers to as his “biggest mistake”.
Dolores’ journey is heavily featured in this episode and we get a very good look at how ruthless and clear minded she has become with her newfound purpose in life. Dolores starts by taking Teddy and Angela to the lower levels of Westworld where she reveals the truth to Teddy of all the times he’s been killed and used by humans as a puppet for their enjoyment. Understandably so Teddy is freaking the fuck out at everything he’s seeing and not really handling his existential awakening as well as Dolores. It’s soon revealed to Dolores that 800 or so men will be coming for her and all of the other rogue hosts soon and she understands that she’s going to need an army. She wakes up one of the Confederado hosts and uses him to find the location of the rest of his army.
Along her journey to find an army Dolores comes across Maeve (Thandie Newton) who is on her own mission in Westworld alongside Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman). They have a bit of a back and forth and it becomes clear that although they may be on the same side they definitely have two opposing outlooks on how to deal with humanity. Delores seems to be seeking the destruction of humanity whilst Maeve has other plans, and as of right now just wants to find her daughter.
Dolores manages to track down some of the Confederados and tries to get them to join forces with her. But when they deny her request she kills the lot of them and uses one of the Westworld technicians to wake and reprogram them, essentially forcing them to follow her command. She has a very clear plan and so far everything seems to be coming together for her.
The final scene of the episode sees Dolores, Teddy and Co. arrive at what looks like a town or a fort of sorts where the rest of the Confederados may be residing. She mentions that her plan for destruction involves using a weapon known as “the valley beyond” that “an old friend” was foolish enough to show her long ago. From the information we have so far we can assume that this old friend is William, and the valley beyond is whatever he showed Dolores in the scene prior to this. It’s very clear now that we are dealing with a Dolores that remembers everything she has ever seen and heard, and that is a crazy amount of knowledge everyone should fear.
William (Ford’s game)
We catch up with the older William now who has begun his journey of participating in the game that Ford left for him before he died. Once again he tracks down Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr) who he saves from being tortured to death and in turn is saved by Lawrence as the hosts aren’t as easy to kill now that they’re off their loops. The stakes really are high for the guests this season and I’m liking it. William and Lawrence embark on their quest and stop off at a nearby town where William unearths a real world first aid kit to heal his gunshot wound. It’s cheating yes but considering the situation he’s in right now it’s fair enough. William details to Lawrence Delos’ intentions with Westworld further going further into how they were watching all of the sins people were committing and keeping track of all of that information. Lawrence may not have any idea who and what Ford and Delos are but he hasn’t begun to have an existential crisis yet so all is good.
Lawrence and William venture out to find some more help in completing Ford’s game and come across a familiar yet at the same time unfamiliar character. They run into El Lazo, the persona that Lawrence used to be who is now being played by Giancarlo Esposito. William offers El Lazo the opportunity to join forces with him but when that doesn’t work he tries to force El Lazo to make his men help him. But then out of nowhere El Lazo utters some words that seem to be straight out of the mouth of Ford himself; “This game was meant for you William, but you must play it alone”. All of El Lazo’s men including the man himself put a bullet in their heads, but not before El Lazo (or rather Ford) can utter some final words; “See you in the valley beyond William”. It’s clear Ford wants William to get to this place that William refers to as his “biggest mistake” but he clearly doesn’t want it to be an easy journey.
So, where last season all seemed to be heading towards getting to the centre of the maze the events of this season for some storylines seem to be leading towards “the valley beyond”. William and Ford refer to it as a place, Dolores refers to it as a weapon, either way both Dolores and William seem to be heading there and I cannot wait to find out what lies at the end of this journey. This episode I liked slightly more than the premiere because it got a couple of character stories moving and gave us some more information about what is really going on behind the scenes at Delos. Ed Harris is still my favourite part of the series and his performance is spectacular every time he’s on screen. What does Ford have in store for William? and what is or is at the valley beyond? I don’t have any idea for now but things might start to come together in the coming episodes.