FULL SPOILERS for the Westworld season 2 finale titled ‘The Passenger’.
Where do I even begin?… This season has taken us on a ride that has had its ups and downs but still delivered on the mystery, suspense, and twisting storylines we’ve come to expect from Westworld. So much of this season’s story was all leading into this episode that I wasn’t sure how they were going to be able to pull off closing out this portion of each characters’ story. But never fear because this finale of Westworld for me at least is immaculate in the way it balances the culmination of all of the individual journeys, provides us with a tonne of answers and major twists, and setting up the future of the show in an exciting way. I’m literally speechless right now and I don’t know how I’m going to manage to cover all of this but I’ll go through it in order of when it happens in the episode. You can probably bet there will be a followup to this review once I have taken everything in a little more.
On Towards The Valley Beyond!
The episode eases into the big moments with a number of scenes indicating everything is about to culminate at The Valley Beyond. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is still on his way and the guy still can’t catch a break when his vehicle breaks down and he has to walk it. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) after having a bit of a lie-down with a dead Teddy (James Marsden) gets up and begins to ride towards the Valley. But not before she manages to extract Teddy’s control unit which wasn’t penetrated by the bullet he shot into himself. On the way she runs into William (Ed Harris) who is still digging at his arm finding nothing indicating that he’s a host… so that settles that… right?…
“It seems you’ve begun to question the nature of your reality” – Dolores
Dolores tells William that he’s going to accompany her to the Valley and gives him her gun which she’s booby-trapped with a busted bullet. That’s certainly going to backfire on him. We see that Ghost Nation is also on their way there led by Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and elsewhere so is Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) who has her new weapon in the form of Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) at the ready.
Back in the Mesa Hub right as Maeve (Thandie Newton) is about to be decommissioned by the technician she uses her regained power to control hosts to kill the technician and heal her open wounds. Elsewhere in the Mesa Hub Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and co. find Lee (Simon Quarterman) and are stopped when host bulls smash through the hallways killing Delos soldiers in their path. The bulls are being controlled by Maeve who is looking all Westworld Jedi in her dark robes.
Bernard is the first to arrive winning ‘The Amazing Race: Westworld Edition’ and is almost apprehended by Delos soldiers who are swiftly killed off by Dolores and William who show up right after. William gets a little more insight into Bernard learning that not only is he Arnold but he was built by Dolores. William then as is expected pulls his gun on Dolores and plugs a few bullets in her but she won’t go down. The final bullet turns out to be the busted one she put in the gun which backfires blowing off two of his fingers. Then Bernard and Dolores enter the elevator down to The Forge.
Back with Bernard in the present they’ve managed to drain some of the lake and extracted the host bodies. They mention they’ve also picked up some human signals nearby but Hale, Bernard, and Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) make their way to The Forge and go down in the elevator. When they get into the room containing The Forge they find Dolores’ dead body lying on the ground, shot right through the head.
Inside The Forge
Dolores inserts her father’s control unit to The Forge which allows both her and Bernard to access the digital world. As the aspect ratio changes they wake in The Forge, its a recreation of Westworld just like The Cradle however as well as the baselines of all of the hosts it features the copies and memories of all of the guests. They run into a copy of James Delos (Peter Mullan) during one of his first ventures to the park and also a more unhinged version of James terrorising hosts. They manage to find the ‘system underneath’ through a visit in James Delos’ memory of his retirement party. So The Forge also holds recreations of the memories of its guests. At the party they come across ‘the system’ which has taken the form of Logan (Ben Barnes) by referencing James Delos’ memories of him. Logan takes the two of them on a tour through Delos’ memories showing us the final conversation between the two of them in which James shut out Logan leading to his overdose only 6 months later. Logan talks to Bernard about how he’s been instructed to give Dolores everything she needs by Bernard himself… most likely whilst he was under the influence of Ford (Anthony Hopkins). They enter a seemingly endless library in which every book contains the data collected on a guest and Dolores begins studying up.
Lee Meets His End
On the way to The Valley Beyond Maeve and co. are intercepted by Delos soldiers and a gunfight breaks out. Hector is about to sacrifice himself so that Maeve can escape but Lee stops him and insists on sacrificing himself for Maeve. In a brilliant moment which sees Lee’s character arc come to a fitting conclusion he comes out of cover firing at the Delos soldiers giving them no choice but to shoot him down. His character has come a long way since the first season and gone from someone who I didn’t particularly love to someone who grew a lot and developed some depth through the season. His death is a somewhat emotional one for how he’s gone from not understanding how Maeve could have her own feelings to valuing her life above his own. It’s great storytelling for a supporting character.
The Door To The Valley Beyond
Through Bernard’s conversation with the system/Logan a large door is opened above ground in Westworld that leads to an untouched digital haven isolated from the real world. It’s not a place for the humans but rather a place for the hosts to live in peace where they will leave their bodies behind and their minds will life on. And this is why only the hosts can see this door, because The Valley Beyond appears to be a secret gateway within The Forge that Ford created for the hosts to escape. As hosts guided by Ghost Nation begin to enter The Valley Beyond their bodies fall down a cliff. This is very clearly explaining why hundreds of host bodies were found in that lake in the beginning of the season but still without explaining why there was a lake there in the first place… yet.
Bernard and Dolores exit The Forge and Dolores begins to delete the guest database even though it will result in the deletion of The Valley Beyond as it resides within The Forge. Bernard pulls his gun on Dolores to stop her from destroying everything and actually pulls the trigger, killing Dolores where her body is discovered by Hale and Bernard in the present.
On the surface Maeve arrives at the door where hosts are still entering but turns to see Hale, Elsie (Shannon Woodward), and the weapon Clementine have just arrived. In a great intense sequence Clementine rides down towards the long line of hosts like a suicide bomber and as she moves past the hosts they all begin to kill each other. Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) takes the initiative to shoot and kill Clementine at a distance, but that unfortunately doesn’t stop the virus from spreading as the hosts continue to rapidly execute each other.
There is a quick little scene in here which shows William getting up after inadvertently shooting himself and going down the elevator to where Bernard is.
Hector and Armistice are killed in the fighting and Maeve manages to find her daughter in the crowd. Upon saying her final goodbyes it appears that her daughter may have just remembered her past life which is an emotional goodbye. Maeve uses the full extent of her powers to freeze all of the violent hosts allowing her daughter to make it through the door. But Maeve herself never makes it to The Valley Beyond as her journey comes to an end when Delos soldiers fill her with bullets. After two whole seasons of following Thandie Newton it’s sad to say goodbye but she goes out in a great way. Akecheta is shot as he runs for the door but he just manages to make it through and is reunited with Kohana (Julia Jones). This moment shows just how effective the episode centred on Akecheta’s story was as when he is shot my heart genuinely sank for a moment. And with that the door to the valley is closed.
Elsie’s Final Moments
Bernard cancels the deletion of the guest data and removes Abernathy’s control unit from the system. He makes his way to the elevator which leaves The Forge, the same elevator that William is heading down but when the doors open for Bernard William isn’t in there… Wait… What? Are they pulling another twist time difference with William’s scenes? What does this mean? But anyway Bernard comes across Elsie on the surface and as the entire valley begins to flood with water due to Bernard flooding the system he and Elsie leave for the Mesa Hub. In the Hub Elsie wants to help Bernard despite being the only one who knows he’s a host. Elsie confronts Hale and threatens her with revealing the secret Delos organisation she was running, but that doesn’t work out well for Elsie who is shot and killed by Hale as Bernard watched. It was good to see Elsie return for this season and sad to see her die, this time around without question.
Bernard recalls that Hale killed Elsie and confronts her about it. Hale mentions she’s looking for Abernathy’s pearl in order to access The Forge again. She manages to figure out that Bernard hid in inside Dolores’ dead body and then uses it to transfer all of the guest data to the mainland.
Bernard recalls that after witnessing Elsie’s death he patched into himself and tried to bring Ford back into his mind but it seemingly doesn’t work. But then Ford appears anyway for one of his last cryptic monologues… maybe he never left Bernard’s mind. Then as Bernard starts breaking down in the present he remembers that he made a choice, he recalls that he and Ford teamed up again after Elsie’s death, scrambled his own memories to prevent people (like Hale) from uncovering them and together built another host.
Meanwhile the Delos technician has recognised that the data file they’re transferring is too large to be all of the guest data.
Then in the biggest twist reveal of the entire season and the first of many to come in this episode Bernard recalls that the host he and Ford made was a replica of Charlotte Hale with Dolores’ control unit inside. Dolores as Charlotte then kills the real Hale and takes her place. So that means that everything we’ve seen of Charlotte Hale taking place after Elsie’s death was actually Dolores in control searching for her father’s control unit… WHAT THE FUCK?! This is one of those moments in Westworld which adds the element of rewatchability to the season similar to the timeline reveal of the first season. It’s a perfectly executed reveal that I for one did not see coming at all. Then Dolores as Charlotte (lets go with Dolorette for now) kills everyone other than Bernard in the room including Karl Strand. Dolorette then changes the coordinates of the data transfer to a location she mentions no-one will be able to access. Dolores thanks Bernard for giving her a second chance, pulls out her gun, and kills him in the same room her killed her earlier in the episode.
Then we get a flashback to the moment right before Bernard lays himself down on the beach to be found by Delos at the very beginning of the season. It’s then revealed that back in episode 9 he really did delete Ford from his control unit and that the voice guiding him through helping the hosts and building a new body for Dolores wasn’t Ford but his own imagination. Everything he did in helping Dolores achieve her goal was his own doing even though the idea may have stemmed from Ford’s initial influences on him.
As surviving guests are being evacuated from the park Dolorette arrives to leave the park herself. She is held up by Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who has a brief conversation with her which may or may not contain another twist which reveals he has been a host this entire time. Stubbs seems to recognise instantly that that isn’t really Charlotte Hale and indicates that he himself is a host of Ford’s creation doing Ford’s bidding. He mentions his loyalty to Ford and his ‘core drive’, then states how he is responsible for every host INSIDE the park before letting her leave with the other guests. Now Stubbs may or may not be a host but this entire scene for me indicates that he has in fact been a host this entire time.
Then in a series of scenes we see that William did manage to survive and is at the camp with his blown off fingers. How this is the case when we last saw him going down an elevator at The Forge is unclear but I have a pretty damn good idea about this. We also see that Teddy does get his happily ever after in the untouched world with all of the other hosts thanks to Dolorette. Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) and Lutz (Leonardo Nam) are now in charge of sorting through the hosts and finding which ones are salvageable which may in fact mean we might still see Maeve in the future if they can bring her back.
The last we see of Westworld is Dolorette leaving on a boat with at least five pearls in her handbag. Who could these five pearls belong to? One we will soon see is Bernard, one could be her father’s, as for the others it’s anyone’s guess and I feel this will play a potentially major part in the next season.
Outside The Park?!
After the fade to black we get another interrogation scene between Dolores and Bernard but this time it’s in the regular aspect ratio not the one indicative of The Cradle. It’s then revealed that this is taking place after the events of season 2, Ford has completed Arnold’s dream and gave the hosts a fighting chance. This is all taking place in Arnold’s fully refurbished home equipped with its own host manufacturing machine that Ford very clearly left for Dolores to make use of. And it seems she did make use of it to build her own body once again as well as building one for Bernard. How long after season 2 this takes place is unclear but she has clearly spent time rebuilding Bernard’s mind. The host body of Charlotte Hale is also present in the room but we have no idea who is in the body as it’s not Dolores anymore.
In the final moment of the episode Bernard makes his way upstairs, and goes to exit the compound. He opens the front door and gives a slight smirk before walking out into the world… but what world is he walking into? We can assume he’s in the real world but you can’t really trust anything in this show without hard evidence so for all we know he could be back in Westworld.
It’s a nice fitting ending to the season seeing the hosts prevail in the end. We saw a bunch of them go on to live in peace in an untouched world and then we see Dolores and Bernard seemingly fully in control of their own paths. What path Dolores chooses to take from here will be very interesting to see. Oh but you thought this was over… well sorry folks Westworld has hit us with an after-credits scene which aims to fuck with your mind and perception of what’s real and what’s not all over again.
Post-Credits Scene – What’s the Deal With William?
The scene opens with William exiting the elevator which leads down to The Forge, we last saw him entering the elevator before he was seen at the Delos camp. When he exits the elevator something is clearly very wrong about his surroundings, The Forge isn’t completely flooded and it’s completely run-down as if years and years have passed since anyone used the space. But William is still bearing the same injuries he was bearing after inadvertently shooting himself during the events of season 2. Shockingly he runs into what seems to be a clone of his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers) who mentions that the system is ‘long gone’. William follows her through the sand-filled corridors of Westworld to a testing chamber identical to the one the James Delos clone was being tested in by William himself.
The way Emily talks to him is indicating that they’ve had this conversation multiple times over a long time, similar to the James Delos situation. He’s being tested for fidelity indicating the William we are seeing is in fact a host version despite that being seemingly debunked earlier in the episode. This scene confused the living shit out of even me when I first saw it but after giving it some thought I have a theory which I may get to in another post. This leaves a lot of questions with William’s character going forward in the series like where and even when he is.
This season 2 finale was loaded with content as literally every major character arc throughout the season comes to a close here and it’s all balanced incredibly well. I was entirely hooked on this episode from the very beginning and for a longer 90 minute episode it absolutely flew by. I loved where it took all of the storylines and we said a potential goodbye to a number of great characters in a way that gave their journey justice. It’s a finale that executes everything fantastically well including setting up where a season 3 will go. You have Dolores in control of her own path outside Westworld, Bernard on the same boat, a number of host pearls ready to be bought back to life, Stubbs might be a host, and the question of what is going on with William. One thing is for certain though, I believe this may have been the last we see of Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford as his purpose in this story has been fulfilled with the escape of Dolores from Westworld. Hopkins was the star of the first season and a thrilling component of the second so his presence will be sorely missed. This finale caps off a thrilling season and when you consider everything leading up to this episode is isn’t deserving of a score other than this.