MAJOR SPOILERS for this weeks episode of Westworld
After a glorious trip to Shogun World in the last episode Westworld gets back to business with ‘Phase Space’ another episode packed with almost every major storyline and a bunch of time (and reality) jumps, one of which reveals a major twist I had been thinking for a few episodes now. I absolutely loved this episode and the way it manages to jump back and forth between all of the different character journeys without becoming too confusing or hard to follow. We got more updates on Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), Maeve (Thandie Newton) and co., William (Ed Harris) and Emily/Grace (Katja Herbers), Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Elsie (Shannon Woodward), Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden), and a certain familiar face returns. This is absolutely my favourite episode of the season so far because of how many story developments we got and how well they are all integrated into this tight singular episode.
Arnold(?!) and Dolores (Timeline Apparently Unknown Now)
So the episode opens with a scene that continues from the very first scene of season 2 in which we saw who we thought was Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores in a session at some point in the past. We initially believed this was in the past due to the similar scenes from season 1 as well as this new change in aspect ratio, a change that has thrown us for a loop. In their conversation it’s progressing as normal, Arnold is mentioning his thoughts to end Westworld due to the uncertainty of what it might become, but the big twist comes when Dolores breaks character saying “No, he didn’t say that” and then freezes his motor functions… but HOW? Initially I didn’t really know exactly what to think of this, I thought maybe we’re looking into the future and this is actually Bernard with a human’s consciousness inside him being tested by Dolores. But there is a scene towards the end of the episode that may explain or hint at answering when or where this takes place.
Interestingly though, right at the end of the scene Dolores mentions to who we’ll call Arnold for now that she’s testing for “fidelity”, the same answer William gave the James Delos (Peter Mullan) host-human hybrid in their interviews. What does this mean? Does this in fact mean what I thought above that this is a similar situation to the William and James experiments?
Dolores and Teddy
We catch up with Teddy back in Sweetwater and see first hand what he has become since Dolores’ new changes. Unfortunately he now seems just as determined and ruthlessly anti-human as her, almost like we have another Wyatt on our hands. Except it seems Dolores’ changes have come with a price, Teddy seems to lack any sort of emotion, compassion, or moral compass as he just straight up murders one of the soldiers they captured when they couldn’t reveal the location of Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum).
Later in the episode they’ve got the train running and are on their way to the Westworld main facility. On the way there they leave the Westworld technician behind with a gun and a single bullet as they’re not gonna let anything stand in their way. One of the main reasons I loved this episode is because Dolores’ journey is beginning to get interesting again. Her scenes last episode were a drag and not engaging but here things are ramping up and it’s exciting.
Hale and Stubbs (Still in the past)
We catch up with Charlotte Hale and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who since we last saw them two episodes ago have met up. It seems that after being left alone by Ghost Nation Stubbs made his way into the facility and found Hale who has Peter Abernathy tied up after taking him from Fort Forlorn Hope. She contacts Delos that she’s got their package and has him bolted down to a chair to really make sure he isn’t going anywhere. Which has me thinking, if all they need from him is the data from his head couldn’t they just extract his brain and carry that around instead of him… just a thought. Towards the end of the episode Stubbs welcomes some of Delos’ men who it seems have air dropped into the park and takes them to the main control room where Hale is waiting. The technicians manage to get the map back online and that’s when they see that the train Dolores is riding on is heading straight for them and has just about arrived. Looks like they might have to move Peter from his chair because Dolores has arrived and she won’t be easy to put down.
Maeve and Co. (Leaving Shogun World)
Following the end of last episode it seems Maeve had no problem dealing with the Shogun’s army, especially now that she could essentially have all of them kill each other and do little to no work. Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) cuts out Sakura’s heart and wraps it up… just to keep a little bit of her I guess. Maeve returns to the main street where she aims to rescue her friends still being held captive by Tanaka (Masayoshi Haneda). Rather mercifully Maeve first offers Tanaka a trade, but before she can mentally persuade him to accept, Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) challenges Tanaka to a one-on-one duel to which Tanaka agrees. After a pretty intense sword fight Musashi ends it with the bloody beheading of Tanaka securing their freedom.
Maeve and Co. then make their way to the exit of the park mentioned last episode which is essentially a garbage chute. But before they leave, Akane places Sakura’s heart in a shrine and burns it as this location is Sakura’s cornerstone, a place that meant a lot to her. And then unfortunately Musashi announces that he and Akane won’t be going with Maeve to find her daughter and opt to remain in Shogun World. I hope this isn’t the last we see of these Shogun World characters but at least Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) leaves with Maeve so we can get some sweet bow and arrow action.
Later in the episode Maeve climbs out of the facility into Westworld at the location of her previous storyline and decides to go find her daughter alone. She finds her old house and as she approaches her daughter is there on the porch and as expected doesn’t remember Maeve as her mother. And that’s because as I expected a new host had replaced Maeve in this storyline and she interrupts the emotional conversation Maeve was having with her ex-daughter. But then it gets worse as it looks like the same or a similar storyline is still playing out as the Ghost Nation attack the house. Maeve takes her ex-daughter and tries to escape but is stopped by one of the Ghost Nation. Interestingly he doesn’t kill her, instead he asks her to go with them as they’re destined for the same path. We know that the Ghost Nation seem to be protecting humans so why they’d help Maeve in uncertain, maybe they recognise she’s more human than other hosts and want to help. But whilst all this is going on Lee (Simon Quarterman) uses the radio he took whilst in Shogun World to call for help, an act that I don’t think will end well for him.
William and Emily/Grace (Family Reunion)
We catch up with William now that he has come across his daughter in Westworld and although they’re travelling together they’re not really talking. We quickly find out she’s clearly very familiar with with the park as she recognises fake Ghost Nations arrows indicating a trap before anyone else. As they settle down for the night we learn that Emily had turned her back on William and the family business as she recognised that he’s a bad person. They’re not on the same page with a lot of things but now she’s back in the park for reasons still unknown. She does mention to William however that she’d rather leave the park with him now that it has gone to shit. William agrees that they’ll leave for the beach in the morning and if they make it he’ll leave the park behind. It’s a nice father-daughter moment that’s almost a little too nice for William.
And sure enough, come morning William and his crew have left Grace alone in Westworld proving that William still values this place and his current mission over his own daughter. William and crew we see are then attacked by Ghost Nation so we’ll have to wait to see how that turns out, although something tells me William will be fine in this situation.
Bernard and Elsie (The Cradle)
Now the storyline with the biggest reveal of the episode and the season. Bernard and Elsie continue their journey and make their way into the main Westworld facility. Through one of the computers Elsie discovers that QA have been trying to regain control of what Ford did to the system but they are being blocked by a system called “The Cradle”. She mentions that something in The Cradle is improvising.
This right here had me thinking that what if Ford had his consciousness built into the cradle so that he could control Westworld and the hosts from within.
Bernard and Elsie make their way to The Cradle which we find out is a hive mind that holds the minds of every host in the park. That’s a lot of backups. Bernard recalls that he bought the red pearl containing someone’s consciousness to this location in the past.
I reckon I’m right with Ford being the one inside The Cradle controlling things.
In order to see what is going on inside The Cradle, Bernard needs to manually access it so he puts himself in a machine that is a manual connection to The Cradle. It extracts his mind so that he can see what’s going on inside it. Just a note here that we see that the pearl Bernard has in his head is a black one.
Bernard and WHO?!
Bernard wakes on the train leading into Westworld and the first thing to notice is that this entire sequence is in the same aspect ratio as that first scene. As Bernard progresses it seems that The Cradle is essentially a digital version of Westworld where there are no guests, only hosts who all operate on their normal storylines. Essentially backups of the hosts who are out in the park. He sees Dolores and Teddy on their usual paths and everything operates as normal.
But then something new shows up, a dog, a rather familiar dog, and it runs into the Mariposa Saloon. It’s at this point I knew the big moment we had all been waiting for was right around the corner. Bernard enters and finds none other than Ford (Anthony Hopkins) himself playing the piano who greets Bernard with a “Hello old friend” like he knew Bernard was coming. This reveals something that I had suspected for a few episodes now and that is that Ford did in some way preserve his consciousness and although he may not have uploaded it to another host has stored himself inside the Westworld database. It’s so damn awesome to have Robert Ford back and this is still an awesome surprise and I cannot wait to see how he factors in to the rest of the season now that we know he’s technically still alive. This moment also does explain how Ford has been communicating with William through the hosts as he is connected to their minds.
Now here’s where this sequence gets interesting in relation to the opening scene. This entire sequence and the opening scene of the episode are in the same aspect ratio, so since this sequence is taking place inside The Cradle couldn’t we also assume that the Dolores and Bernard scene is also taking place here… Then we also have to consider time, in the opening scene Dolores seems to be fully aware and in control so this is after the revolution, but how far after? Also could this be prior to Bernard being washed up on the shore at the beginning of the season? If that’s the case and in the opening scene that is Dolores testing running tests on a version of Bernard with a human consciousness in him could that mean the Bernard we see in the ‘present’ timeline is actually someone else? Possibly Arnold somehow? But he seems to have Bernard’s memories too as he knew Charlotte’s name. I’m not quite sure if this is exactly what is going on but it would be an awesome twist if it turns out that way.
I loved everything about this episode and it shows that the writers behind the scenes still love messing with us by presenting one timeline as another and one character as another to confuse us and give us a big reveal later on. I cannot wait to see what becomes of Bernard, Arnold, Ford, and Dolores and how it seems all their journeys are somehow linked through the last four episodes. There is so much to still be closed off and I believe we are heading for an amazing, incredible, packed last few episodes of season 2.