Sunday, May 26, 2024

Timelines, Twists, and Old Friends Muddy the Waters on Westworld

Share This Post

This week’s episode of Westworld was entitled “Phase Space,” a slightly complicated physics term that I can just about barely understand in relation to this episode but can’t really explain. (Which I think is an ironically good definition of what a lot of reviewers are feeling as they try to explain the timelines this season to their readers). So here’s what google says:

A multidimensional space in which each axis corresponds to one of the coordinates required to specify the state of a physical system, all the coordinates being thus represented so that a point in the space corresponds to a state of the system.

Basically it’s what we learn The Cradle to be this episode. “Phase Space” both answers and asks a lot more questions, culminating to some big twists at the end. Overall definitely entertaining, and I would still mark it above those early episodes I was less enthused for, but with the introduction of  said “phase space,” it might be biting off more than it can chew.

Maeve’s Journey Home

Picking up from last week, we find Maeve in Shogun World all bloodied after defeating the army raging towards her. We see bodies and blood strewn across the ground. It’s slaughter. Akane grieves over Sakura and in a bloody visceral move, cuts out Sakura’s heart to take with her for the goodbye ceremony. Maeve watches as Akane strokes Sakura’s hair in the same way she used to do to her daughter; the parallels between these hosts clearly extends beyond just narrative, even mannerisms.

On their way out, Musashi’s rival comes forward with his men to try and stop them. Maeve warns him, saying she will let him live if he lets them pass. He laughs them off, demanding Akane. Musashi steps up, daring him to a duel. Akane looks worried, asking Maeve why she’s not intervening and Maeve tells her that people must choose their own fate, even if that fate is death. (This contrasts well with Dolores’ methods, although it’s a little hypocritical considering the countless men in the armies she’s forced to kill themselves against their will). After a beautifully well-crafted and bloody fight scene, Mushashi wins and the team head towards Sakura’s home and burial site, as well as towards the outpost Maeve and the others can use to get back into the tunnels.

When they get there, Sizemore, Felix, and Sylvester seek the hatch into the outpost while Maeve goes with the others to the shrine. Akane burns Sakura’s heart as she says goodbye. After forcing Felix to test the hatch first, Sizemore gives Maeve the all clear but Musashi says he will not be going with them. Akane agrees that she wants to stay, reminding Maeve of her words about choice as Maeve tries to convince them to come. The group parts ways, Hanaryo the only Shogun World host going with Maeve, clearly unable to leave Armistice. It feels a little lackluster given how little time we spent with these characters and Shogun World, but hopefully we’ll return.

After they get all cleaned up (presumably Maeve didn’t want to be horrifically blood splattered when reuniting with her daughter), they enter the Homestead via a grave in the floor. Maeve wears her hair like it was when she was in the narrative loop with her daughter in a touching effort to reclaim that past. She tells Hector she wishes to do this alone, so they all stay back as she approaches her old storyline by herself.

What it feels like when you find out your daughter has a new mom that looks exactly like you.

She finds her daughter playing with dolls. The little girl tells her the dolls are mother and daughter, but the daughter is scared her mother will be taken away from her again. Maeve comforts her, insisting that the mother would never let that happen. Suddenly, Maeve 2.0 comes around the house, and Maeve is shocked. It’s kind of crazy that Maeve would be so shocked. I don’t really know why she wouldn’t think they’d give her daughter host a new mother after all this time since she’s been on that narrative loop, but I guess you could chalk it up to traumatic tunnel vision.

As soon as questions start getting thrown around, Ghost Nation rides in and Maeve, still clearly reliving her trauma, grabs her daughter and runs. The Ghost Nation hosts must not be on their normal narrative loop, even though initial appearances seem that way, because if they were still functioning in that capacity, surely this would have happened already in the timeline and Maeve would have walked in on corpses? Hector, Armistice, and Hanaryo head over to help while Sizemore takes out the walkie he found to call for rescue. Felix looks at him disgusted, choosing to go help Maeve.

Emily’s Confrontation

After riding with his daughter in almost near silence, William finally responds to her by asking if she’s a host Ford planted. Emily denies it, then saves the group from an ambush, convincing him she’s actually there. While camping for the night, the two have a heart to heart (or so it seems), and she apologizes for telling him it was his fault her mother killed herself. William tries to reconnect with Emily as she brings up their past history in the park, but he misremembers, telling her she was always scared of the elephants in Raj World. Emily refutes this and acts affronted, explaining that was her mother not her. She tells William that Juliet never believed they couldn’t get hurt in the park, and she was right.

Reaching out one last time, Emily asks William to leave the park with her, giving him a final lifeline. Tears welling up in his eyes. He agrees but when she wakes up in the morning, the group has left her. Worst Father of the Year award going to William, as he leaves his daughter in hostile territory without so much as a horse to get around.

Stubbs Starts to Sympathize

Back in the Mesa, Stubbs and Hale bring in Abernathy, and Charlotte calls in the higher ups in QA. Stubbs is shocked they would risk so many lives and the safety of their guests just to wait for Abernathy’s extraction. As they wait for the team to come in, Charlotte has a tech nail Abernathy to the chair to hold him down. Stubb tries to protest its necessity, and it’s clear that Stubbs is starting to feel sympathy towards the hosts, perhaps from some of the events that took place while he was out in the park before making it over to the Mesa.

Dolores Questions Her Actions

In a heavy-handed but functional metaphor, Teddy walks through Sweetwater and picks up a bullet instead of the usual milk can, indicative of the change he’s gone through. Dolores is playing the piano when he walks in, a symbol that is certainly relevant to the end and opening of this episode, as the player of the piano always thematically ties to the hosts’ consciousness and choice.

As Dolores and Angela question a tech captive about Abernathy’s location in the Mesa and he tries to insist he doesn’t know, newfound Teddy makes his true debut as he shoots him point blank in the head. Dolores looks concerned, either the level of his aggression and quick trigger or just his general lack of control over it. I’m glad we’re seeing her start to regret her actions. It may be that finally seeing her choices reflected back at her will start to get her thinking a little more critically about what she’s doing, though this does feel like a really quick switch flick.

Once they get the train working and start the journey, Dolores gives Teddy another test. He passes, but he’s clearly resentful of her and what she’s done to him. It’ll be interesting to see how this effects them going forward, especially as a team. We know where Teddy ends up after all. They separate the train cars, leaving the other tech behind in the one laced with explosions, and Teddy leaves him a gun and one bullet before locking him in, claiming it’s his last piece of mercy. The train heads towards the tunnel to the Mesa, an explosion going off that runs through multiple plot lines.

Bernard Heads into the Phase Space

Bernard and Elsie approach the Mesa and find it strewn with corpses. Elsie looks on the computer to try and parse out what’s going wrong but can’t find the source of the code. Bernard tells her they can only see the back wall from the Cradle. The Cradle is essentially back up storage where all the data from the hosts lives, but is also clearly integral to the upkeep of the overall system. Elsie still can’t see behind the code wall and Bernard offers to go in himself to try and read it.

The machine cracks his head opened, pulling out the pearl, and he’s transported into virtual Westworld (and a widescreen aspect ratio). Bernard, in a Teddy-esque journey, gets off the train at Sweetwater in this virtual reality and passes all these familiar hosts walking around (Teddy and Dolores). As Bernard walks into the Mariposa, the piano sounds but someone is playing it. He looks over and who does he find? His “old friend” Ford. Yes, that’s right, Anthony Hopkins is back. (Well virtually). He’s clearly imparted his consciousness into the Cradle, which explains how he’s been communicating through hosts and pulling strings from beyond the grave.

They’re adding another plane of reality you say?

With this and the aspect ratio clue in mind, we can go back to the opening scene of Dolores seemingly talking to Bernard or Arnold in analysis mode. Perhaps it’s both. He relays a line to her that she immediately corrects, insisting “he” didn’t say that. “He” is presumably Arnold. As this Bernard/Arnold figure begins to protest, confused, Dolores freezes him and tells him they’re testing for fidelity, replicating what we saw William do with Delos in the other episode. So, bearing this in mind, there’s clearly a human consciousness implanted in this Bernard/Arnold host body and most likely it’s Arnold.

Overall I liked this episode but I worry it’s trudging into deep waters that it can’t float in with the introduction of this virtual world. At the same time, I trust the Nolans. Next week looks like it’s going to be a jam packed episode, especially considering there were big reveals even in the promo! (Multiple Arnold hosts bodies?!)

Images Courtesy of HBO

Latest Posts

Official Planet Of The Apes TTRPG Announced From Carbon Grey Publisher, Will Use Classic West End Games D6 System

Magnetic Press Reveals Official PLANET OF THE APES Role-Playing Game Coming to Kickstarter

Faeforge Academy: Episode 165 – Definitely Not Our Friends

Rain, Beskey, and Alejo (@lonzogonzo) have made their way...

Begin Your Journey Into the Unbeing with Dark Horse’s New Title

Into the Unbeing Part One is a new miniseries...

Skybound Tabletop Teams Up With Dire Wolf For Invincible: The Hero-Building Game

Invincible: The Hero-Building Game swoops into action this summer

The X-Men Face Off With Aliens, The Government And Family Reunions In The Next Phase Of From The Ashes Era

Check out the covers and story details for NYX #2, PHOENIX #2, X-FORCE #2, X-MEN #2, and X-MEN #3, all on sale this August!

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is Perfect and Hilarious

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is the perfect video game and should get all the sequels.