Spoilers for Westworld season 2 episode 9 “Vanishing Point” to follow.
The penultimate episode of season 2 has finally arrived and it sets up a phenomenal conclusion to the season as well as giving us a William-centric episode, by far my favourite character of the season. The episode spends a lot of time with William (Ed Harris) and exploring the fateful night which resulted in the death of his wife. But considering the amount of time spent on the man in black there is still a fairly hefty amount of content furthering Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores’ (Evan Rachel Wood) stories heading into the finale. I will say it is one of the more jumpy episodes despite only spending time in two time periods and the back and forth between the multiple stories isn’t handled as well as in some previous episodes which lets this one down. But the deep exploration of William’s character at this point in time and the presence of Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) cryptic dialogue make this episode a thrilling ride.
Bernard and Ford (Shortly Before the Present)
We catch back up with the Bernard and Ford combo deal in the Mesa Hub where they happen upon a demonstration involving Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) that Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) is overseeing. (On a side note I guess it makes sense we are seeing Clementine again as her control unit wasn’t destroyed in episode 7). Bernard and Ford watch as through analysing Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) code Hale has been able to give Clementine the same ability to control or influence the minds of other hosts with her mind. So now I guess Maeve’s abilities aren’t unique anymore… for now. Before moving on to catch up with Elsie (Shannon Woodward), Ford has one last thing for Bernard to do. He has Bernard take him to Maeve, but they only need to get close enough to allow Maeve to search Bernard’s mind as Ford has left her a message… a message we don’t see until a little later in the episode.
Bernard then catches up with Elsie and after informing her that Delos are replicating the minds of all of the guests in the park he delivers some information that is also new to us. He mentions that this place, The Valley Beyond, is actually called ‘The Forge’ and it’s just like The Cradle except it is storing the minds of all of the guests. They hop in a Jeep and begin making their way there.
Then we flash back to the message Ford left for Maeve which paves the way for a massive moment in the final episode. So we see Ford talking about how the journey he had in mind for her involved her getting out of the park and riding away towards freedom. This is the path we saw her go on in the end of the first season. Of all of the hosts she was his favourite and he admires her choice to remain in this world to protect her child as that’s exactly what he did by placing himself in The Cradle. The big moment comes at the end of their conversation where he gives her a kiss on the forehead which gives her access to her “core permissions”. It’s not clear what exactly this unlocks but when you consider the last line he says to her which is to not let the men end her story here, I believe he gave her the ability to control all of the humans who have had their minds stored in The Forge. This could be a huge story point in the final episode and going forward into season 3.
Back with Bernard and Elsie they stop out in the park for a moment and Ford begins trying to persuade Bernard to kill Elsie before she betrays him and cuts Ford’s mission short.
“There’s the origin of an entire species to consider, we need to open the door” – Ford
But Bernard fights back, throwing away the gun and he begins to patch into himself with the intention of deleting Ford from his mind. He manages to move things around and deletes some files until the message “data package deleted” appears on the screen and all of a sudden Ford vanishes from sight. Now what it is implied happens here is that Bernard has finally gotten rid of Ford from his control unit but what I believe happened is actually the opposite. I believe Ford either partly or entirely deleted Bernard’s mind from the control unit and now it is Ford in control of Bernard’s body. We’ll see how this plays out and if I’m correct in my assumptions.
Dolores and Teddy (Shortly Before the Present)
We first see Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) in this episode when they come across the Ghost Nation tribe led by Wanahton (Martin Sensmeier) as Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) seems to be absent from the group. Wanahton mentions that The Valley Beyond isn’t for Dolores, it’s not a tool, and that it’s a door to a new world. But Dolores insists that she is going to use this tool to ensure human immortality against them. Suddenly arrows and bullets begin to fly which results in the entirety of Ghost Nation wiped out as well as all of the men accompanying Dolores and Teddy. But when Teddy wanders through the aftermath he sees Wanahton casually walking away from the scene. He raises his gun but fights back the urge and doesn’t kill him. This shows that the old kind Teddy is coming through despite the changes Dolores forced upon him.
The final scene of the episode is an emotional conversation between Dolores and Teddy in an abandoned house where the first thing Teddy does is load a bullet into his gun. He talks with Dolores about splendour, the fact that she is his cornerstone, and his history going back to the first time he came back online. He seems to remember how she turned him into a monster and that he very clearly isn’t ok with the vengeful path she is taking. Then in a not so shocking moment considering the fact that we saw Teddy dead in the beginning of the season, he raises his gun and puts a bullet right through his head. Now with all of the backups destroyed thats a definitive goodbye to Teddy and one that breaks Dolores down.
Dolores’ journey hasn’t been the most engaging and her scenes in this episode are the least captivating but they are still enjoyable when considering her journey as a whole. The interaction with Ghost Nation is there just to service a change of heart for Teddy and the latter scene puts a cap on his journey through the last two seasons. Dolores as a character hasn’t changed all that much but I’m still looking forward to her role in the finale.
William and Emily (Shortly Before the Present)
Despite everything else that happened above, this episode is heavily focused on telling William’s story in the lead-up to his wife’s death and how he has almost completely unraveled since then. We first catch up with William and Emily (Katja Herbers) who has used her knowledge of the park to track down a first aid kit and patch him up. She believes that it isn’t too late for their relationship and that it can be repaired. She knows about William’s work in the park and his pursuit for immortality via The Valley Beyond and he ensures her that his work has nothing to do with seeking control. Emily then questions how exactly Delos has been able to monitor the guests’ every move. And even though we have known this is what Delos have been doing it’s cool to learn exactly how. It seems that no matter which hat you choose upon entering Westworld each one contains a built-in scanner that can track thoughts and brainwaves and essentially log a human mind.
William (The Fateful Night)
Throughout their entire conversation we are seeing flashbacks of the events in the lead-up to the death of his wife. William and his wife are at a party, she is clearly very drunk and it’s clear from this point that William’s head isn’t in this world as he has a brief vision of Dolores in place of one of the waitresses.
(Side note… I’m completely dropping the “Grace” name in this review as no character has mentioned her name as being Emily-Grace and for all we know it could have just been a front to hide her true identity.)
A little later into the party Emily shows up, has a brief conversation with William with whom there doesn’t seem to be any hostility and then William makes his way over to the bar. At the bar he comes across Ford and they have a friendly but not so friendly conversation in which we learn that they had an agreement that Delos would stay out of Ford’s storylines and he would stay out of their Valley Beyond project. Ford hands William a keycard containing his “profile”, a record of everything he has done with his time in Westworld.
“No William, I think perhaps one final game” – Ford
Than night, after the party his wife is drunk, acting erratically, questioning William’s work in the park, and blaming him for ripping the family apart. He puts her to bed and hides his profile card inside a book before venturing back downstairs. He has a conversation with Emily about her mother but it’s cut short when he notices water dripping through the ceiling. He races upstairs to find that she’s killed herself in the bathtub for some seemingly unclear reasons at this time.
William and Emily (Shortly Before the Present)
When William finishes with the story as he knows it he still strongly believes that Emily isn’t really his daughter and that it’s Ford using a host of Emily to manipulate him. And it’s clear from this point just how much William’s mind has completely unravelled since his wife’s death. She tells him that once she’s done in Westworld she is going to bring to light all of the illegal wrongdoings he’s been doing in the park. She also informs him that she read his profile and that her mother left it for her before she died. The reason behind his thoughts stem from the fact that he believes that the only person who knows about his profile is Ford as he never told anyone else.
“You are in your very essence, a lie” – Emily
Delos soldiers arrive and apprehend the both of them, Emily tries to inform them that she’s his daughter but he tells them otherwise. And just to hammer home how much William has completely lost the plot he even believes the arrival of the soldiers is part of Ford’s game. When their guard is down he grabs one of their guns and straight up kills all four of them. His delusion runs so deep that just as Emily gets up to prove to him she isn’t Ford he straight up kills his own daughter even though he is yet to realise it.
As he approaches her body to reveal her as a host he notices in her hand is his profile proving that she was telling the truth. It’s this moment in which he realises that he just killed his own daughter as a result of his obsession with this world, and everything being fabricated.
William rides off on horseback, stops out in a field, and thinking about what he has just done puts his gun to his head and thinks back to one more detail about the night of his wife’s death that we didn’t see.
William (The Fateful Night)
In the flashback we learn that after he put her to sleep he sat beside her and confessed to all of his wrongdoings, talking about the darkness inside him that he bought into the family. He mentions that his mind doesn’t belong to the real world and that he’s spent so much time obsessing over Westworld that his mental state is more a part of that world. He then walks downstairs and we see that she wasn’t actually asleep and heard his entire story. She then discovers his profile card and then sees for herself all of the things he has done whilst in Westworld over the years. It’s this that leads to her killing herself confirming the entire blame is on William.
When she analysed his profile we see that he is “Subject Number 002”, meaning he’s been logging himself for immortality first and foremost (or second and secondmost).
William (Shortly Before the Present)
Despite almost pulling the trigger he doesn’t kill himself, rather he begins to question whether his choices were ever truly his to begin with. And just to show the further degradation of his mind he begins to cut open his arm before it cuts to black. Now if he finds a connection port then I guess that would mean he is actually a host, if not, then he’s a human. Everything in this episode regarding William including the dialogue has been pointing towards him being a host. I feel this is all a red herring, leading us to believe he may actually be fabricated but he’s actually just a very broken and shitty person. We’ll probably get an answer to this in the season finale and I cannot wait.
The content of this episode across the three major storylines involving Bernard, Dolores (somewhat), and William are fantastic. Bernard or who I believe is actually Ford is now on his way to The Forge, Dolores who just lost the love of her life is also on her way there, and William who has completely unraveled will most certainly arrive in the finale. It’s all coming to a head and this finale is going to hopefully be packed to the brim with awesomeness. I love the exploration of the night William lost his wife and how it shows the starting point (or mid point) of the breakdown of his mind and how that links with where he is at in his scenes with Emily. The only thing holding this episode back is how all of these stories are edited into this one episode as it isn’t the cleanest back and forth jumping around that we’ve seen this season. But other than that this was a fantastic penultimate episode and now it’s going to be the longest wait imaginable for the finale.