Dr Robert Ford may be the most elusive character Westworld will ever have. All the questions of why a state of the art theme park would have this fledgling rebellion go on under its nose was provided with the simplest answer: the man at the top made it happen. There are many reasons why Ford has done this: grief and guilt over choosing success over his oldest friend, a decision that lead to his friend’s death, a final “screw you” to his enemies on the board who were taking his life’s work away from him, or it was just the best ending he could think of for his own story.
The Bicameral Mind is a mind-blowing finale, full of typical shocks and twists, but also full of quieter moments that pack a bigger punch than the façade of violence and murder. To sift through the chaos this episode has left in its wake will be a huge challenge for Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, because they have burned their show to the ground in a spectacular fashion. This episode is strikingly reminiscent of Preacher’s finale: in which the show blew up its premise in the sloppiest way imaginable. Westworld has went the complete opposite direction, with every act of sabotage to the shows status quo enhancing what we’ve seen in the rest of the season, while also showing a creative bravery to make the harder, more compelling choices. I know I’m not alone in thinking that the season would end with all of what had come before being a false start. The reveal of Dolores “dying” in Teddy’s arms doubling as the end of Ford’s presentation of his new storyline to investors had me thinking that it was going that way.
Instead, it was revealed that the show’s ace in the hole was actually Ford himself who created the circumstances for Dolores to accept the type of person (it’s so important that Ford refers to her as a person) she would need to be to become free. So many journey’s come to an end, only to start new ones that it’s easier to break this feature length episode down to the four most important characters, all of whom were guided in some way by Arnold.
Dolores is now the revolutionary that Arnold always wanted her to be. Her killing of Ford solidifies her connection to the two “gods” that created her, the very fact that both of them wanted her to kill them proves that they see her, and by extension the other hosts, as alive, choosing their own mortal punishment for bringing them into this world and abusing them. Westworld has been about Dolores fighting to become free, free from her loop, free from the men who manipulate or control her, all culminating in the realisation that she has been following herself. It’s her voice she’s been hearing, with Arnold, and Ford’s power stripped away, she realises that it’s only herself that has control of her life. Arnold and Ford may be her de-facto parents, but she’s fully independent now.
Damnit Westworld, I should have guessed this immediately, I’ve been talking about white hats and black hats this whole time. The Man in Black is actually William in the present day. All the clues where there, the photograph of his fiancé, his connection to Dolores, past William’s rising blood lust, but we were bamboozled yet again. It’s a question of context: in a park that never changes why wouldn’t we think that William and Logan’s plot is happening at the same time as all the others. It’s something that reminds us that this is Dolores’ story, she is the one going through this loop over and over. What this does mean is that Jimmi Simpson is now most likely out of the series, which is a damn shame, hopefully Ed Harris will stick around as he’s finally got his wish of a world without rules.
Maeve is a badass, after all she brought back Bernard. That’s not all though, her plan of escape gave the episode its quota of ultra-violence. The blood bath behind the curtain (where there’s also a samurai world) gave Jonathan Nolan a chance to unleash his inner John Carpenter: all flashing red lights, gouts of blood, and a thumping electronic soundtrack, it was exhilarating. Questions still remain for Maeve: with her ultimate goal being to infiltrate the outside world it begs the question, who was updating her. The easy answer would be Arnold’s old code, but that’s too easy for this show. My insane fan theory is that it’s present day Logan, as it was unclear whether the end of life came to an end naked on a horse. It’ all moot at this point as Maeve, feeling that human pain of loss that Arnold felt was the key, decides to stay in the park and find her daughter.
Just like a loop we end where we began, with Dr Ford. The grand architect who finished what his old friend started, out of a sense of guilt and duty, Ford ended up being the catalyst for the robot rebellion. All of his monstrous acts have led to this: ordering Bernard to kill Theresa, and Elise (maybe), all to hide his true intentions from William, Charlotte, and the board. In grand megalomaniacal style he quotes Robert Oppenheimer: “Any man’s mistakes that take ten years to correct must have been a great man”, note that he must be an extraordinary man if his mistakes took 35 years. The hosts are no longer living inside Ford’s dream made reality, like Michelangelo’s painting of God creating Adam, it was consciousness, knowledge of your own humanity that was the greatest gift. What Westworld proves is that it is a gift drenched with blood.
9/10 – An immensely satisfying ending to one of 2016’s best new shows. HBO has created a worthy replacement to Game of Thrones, however this time the wait will be agonizingly longer as the show won’t be back until sometime in 2018. Until then we will just have to rewatch these stunning ten episodes all over again, like a loop.
Season grade: 9/10