Westworld Kicks It up a Notch as Dolores Develops a God Complex in “Reunion”
And what the hell does Delos want?
This week’s Westworld feels like the actual beginning of S2. “Reunion” jolts us awake with flashbacks that provide some much-needed context, and Dolores attempting to jolt her fellow hosts awake … all while having developed a serious god complex. Meanwhile, the Man in Black has had it with Robert’s shenanigans. [**SPOILERS WILL ABOUND IN THIS POST AND THE COMMENTS! BEWARE!**]
The official HBO synopsis for this episode is “Why don’t we start at the beginning?” and we definitely get a closer look at the very beginnings of Westworld. We not only see Arnold taking Early Dolores out and about in the world to impress investors (including the Delos family, of which Logan is a part!), but we see a very different William than we got to know in Season One.
“Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”
One of the bigger surprises for me with the flashbacks was the William we’re presented with. Season One William was at party-boy Logan’s mercy before William came into his own and sent him off, naked, on the horse he rode in on. In the “Reunion” flashbacks, William has become much more ambitious and business-minded, ingratiating himself to Logan’s father, James Delos (Peter Mullan), and trying to convince him of the business sense that Westworld makes. Delos seems to greatly respect this new William, while his son has become a disappointment.
Meanwhile, William encounters Dolores several times in the real world as the Argos Company (the company that has developed the hosts, presumably the company employing Robert and Arnold) continues to pursue investment from the Delos Corporation for their work, and at one point toward the end of the episode, we see that he sits her down completely naked and talks to her as if she’s a thing, saying he can’t believe he ever fell in love with her, and tells her that he realizes that he wasn’t actually ever interested in her, but in himself.
He calls her a mirror, reflecting who he is back at him, and basically says that the reason why Westworld will appeal to people is that everyone loves looking at themselves in a mirror. Dolores stares at him, wide-eyed, looking as though she may cry.
It’s heartbreaking to see how hopeful and full of wonder Dolores used to be around the time she was first created. We watch as Arnold works with her to improve her improvisational responses, and she marvels as she looks out a hotel window into a large city at night and says “It looks like the stars have been scattered across the ground. Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”
Arnold loves seeing the world through Dolores’ eyes and regrets that humanity seems to have lost that childlike wonder. “Maybe they don’t have the courage,” Dolores says. “Strange new light can be just as frightening as the dark.” Arnold responds that this may be, but that “Sometimes, I think we’re simply not the ones who deserve it.”
He takes Dolores to the home he’s having built for his family to allow them to live closer to the park. And he apparently shows her something else, which I’ll get to in a minute when I get into Dolores in the present-day.
Later in the flashback, William has commissioned Dolores to play piano at a retirement party for Logan’s father, who seems to be in not-great shape. He’s coughing a lot and talking about how not everyone has the luxury of time. That evening, Dolores goes outside to look at the city lights some more, and comes across Logan sitting and drinking alone.
Here’s where things get interesting, and reveal a little about what could be Delos’ purpose in investing in Westworld. As Dolores tries to make polite conversation, a drunk Logan points to the Delos party and says, “That’s the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn. And the funniest fucking part? They lit the match.”
Now, just as we heard in that awesome Super Bowl ad, Westworld used their player piano version of Kanye West’s “Runaway” in this episode, which makes it all the more poignant when Logan raises his glass and says, “So here’s to you, assholes. May your forever be blissfully short.”
Your “forever?” Taken together with a sick Delos patriarch wanting to hurry things along, it could be that the hosts, the park, the guests, could have something to do with either extending human life, or genetically altering it. Logan now seems to think that Westworld isn’t just fun and games, but the beginning of the end for humanity as a species. Eeeenteresting.
Cut to the present-day host revolution where Dolores is a stone-cold bitch. Not only is she perfectly happy to make humans suffer violently before killing them, but she’s kinda hostile with fellow hosts, too, saying over and over again that if they want “glory” or “freedom,” they need to follow her.
There’s good reason for this. Throughout the episode, we see just how much information about the outside world Dolores has been privy to: being taken out several times to entertain/educate investors, William and Delos having a conversation about the park in front of her while her motor functions were off. She has information the other hosts aren’t necessarily privy to, so it makes sense that she use that information to free them. However, she’s also assuming that they’d be silly not to.
Poor Teddy doesn’t know what to think. His illusions are shattered in this episode as he learns about his own history, and yet he’s still hesitant and cautious, not entirely trusting that Dolores, for all her “good intentions,” has the resources or the information needed to actually do what she says she’s going to do (Pinky): try to take over the world.
It isn’t until she says that an “old friend” (ie: Arnold) showed her something that could be used to defeat the humans that shit starts to get real. She says that Arnold “foolish enough” to show her “a weapon. And I’m going to use it to destroy them.” Whaaaat?
While it was kinda terrifying to hear her say that, I do wonder if the thing they’re ultimately trying to get to is an actual weapon, or if it’s something that she, completely without human context, would interpret as a weapon. Just because she’s seen things doesn’t mean she understands things. The way she’s kinda just going completely off the rails right now leads me to believe that her hubris will lead to her comeuppance as knowledge she thought she had blows up in her face.
Honestly, this episode firmly made me #TeamMaeve. The scene where Maeve encounters Dolores was amazing at setting up the dynamic between these two hosts with very different approaches and priorities. I love that Maeve does not give a flying fuck what Dolores is up to or starting. She’s on her own mission.
Dolores brings up the idea of revenge, and Maeve scoffs saying that “Revenge is just a different prayer at their altar, darling. And I’m well off my knees.” BOOM. She asks Teddy if he feels free following Dolores, and the look on his face screams MAYBE NOT.
And I love that, when Dolores continues to try to pressure her into joining their budding army, Maeve is completely unflappable, bringing up the excellent point that “Since it’s liberty you’re defending, I suppose you’ll have no choice but to let us pass. Freely.” Dolores lets her pass, because you do not force Maeve to do any goddamn thing she doesn’t wanna do.
I really hope Maeve fucks Dolores up by the end of this season. Maeve Millay for President 2020.
And then there’s the Man in Black, who’s on a mission to burn Westworld to the ground, but not before he figures out what game Robert Ford has in store for him and where the hell “The Door” is. The stakes are real for the first time, and the MiB loves that. However, he becomes increasingly frustrated by the fact that Robert seems to have foreseen all the ways in which the MiB would attempt to survive and succeed and taken them away from him.
Most frustratingly, when he and his “old friend” Lawrence attempt to get some Pariah outlaws to help them on their journey, the new El Lazo (played by guest star, Giancarlo Esposito in a totally top-secret cameo!) not only refuses to help, but tells the MiB so in Robert’s voice before he and his men all shoot themselves in the head, denying the MiB a support team. “Fuck you, Robert,” he says as he puts a few more bullets into El Lazo’s head for good measure.
The MiB and Lawrence have to go to the site of “his greatest mistake” to get whatever they need on their own.
Earlier in the episode, the MiB explains to Lawrence that Westworld exists because humans wanted a place where they could sin in peace without judgmental eyes on them, and that’s what they thought they were getting. Delos, however, was watching, though “judgement wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind entirely.” He doesn’t elaborate.
So, based on this episode, what do you think Delos is up to? Do you think it has to do with life extension/genetic engineering? Were they trying to bring about the Singularity? And is what Delos wants and what Argos originally wanted two different things? How involved in Delos were Ford and Arnold originally? How much did they know when agreeing to investment from Delos?
SO MANY QUESTIONS. But that’s what this show is all about, and “Reunion” gave Season Two a firm, swift kick in the ass, giving us plenty to keep us talking until next week’s episode.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9PM ET on HBO.
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