Westworld: Reunion, Review

***SPOILER WARNING***

If you have not seen the second episode of season 2 Reunion and don’t want the show spoiled then please turn away. If spoilers don’t bother you or you have seen the episode then welcome.

One of Westworld’s greatest strengths is admittedly one its greatest weaknesses. There is so much going on and often very little time is wasted in showing it all. On top of that you have the various timelines which makes things all that much more confusing.

This episode felt like a necessary pit stop at a gas station in the middle of all the chaos. The flashback-heavy world building had a hint of fan service, and in centering the episode on William and his turn from white-hatted hero to black-hatted villain, “Reunion” turned what could have been a boring info dump into something a little more oblique.

The episode opens in the past before the park was officially open. Arnold shows Dolores around the city and she’s about to be used in a pitch to investors (Although Arnold vetoes actually using her in the presentation because he doesn’t think she’s ready yet.) But having Arnold take her and actually show her the house he’s building for his family (he hasn’t lost his son yet, which is an indication that his interest in Dolores and her potential was around even before grief drove him to extreme measures) enriches our understanding of what’s going on with Dolores.

In the present-ish timeline Dolores finally shows Teddy what they were looking for in the first episode. Dolores takes him inside a command center for the park and shows him the deaths he’s experienced over and over. He interrogates a terrified tech by asking “What the hell is this place?” and “Why did you do this?” The tech responds in the most horrifyingly way possible: “It’s just for fun.”

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

The episode goes on to elaborate this point via the flashbacks. We see the return of Logan in the pre-park timeline. He takes a pitch from Angela who takes him to a cocktail party where Logan is not initially impressed. When everyone stops he, myself included, is baffled and amazed and says “we’re not here yet.”  He grasps the park on its most elemental level; he’s excited to have a chance to sin, to have sex with robots, to shoot androids and feel like he’s a tough guy. But, as the episode makes clear, that’s the most simplest form of evil in the park.

It’s William though who makes the scary pitch to his father in law, jumping forward in time.

“Half of your marketing budget goes to trying to figure out what people want. Because they don’t know. But here, they’re free. Nobody’s watching. Nobody’s judging. At least that’s what we tell them. This is the only place in the world where you get to see people for who they really are, and if you don’t see the business in that, then you’re not the businessman I thought you were.”

The big business here is to surveil the guests and turn that information into data, something that is quite relevant given today’s news (Facebook/Cambridge Analytica).

We then see the beginnings of Williams turn to the dark side with Jimmi Simpson portraying the character’s awfulness for the first time. Not only did he specifically bring Dolores to the real-world party celebrating his promotion as the new head of Delos (putting her in front of his wife and daughter), in the next scene he proceeds to strip her naked and then berate her for failing to sufficiently redeem him. “You really are just a thing,” he told her, nastily. “I can’t believe I fell in love with you.” What saved him, he went on, was realizing that Dolores wasn’t a person but a “reflection,” a device in which William could discover things about himself for the first time.

We still can’t make the leap from William to the Man in Black yet but we can start to see some of the nihilistic tendencies surface. The twist in this episode, though, is that it’s William who loses his perspective along the way. “I don’t want to underwrite some investment banker’s voyage of self-discovery,” his father-in-law warns him during his pitch. An obvious call back (or forward?) to Ford’s similar quote to the Man in Black near the end of season 1.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

In the present-ish timeline the MIB still thinks its all about him but we at least now know what he’s actually going to do: he’s going to burn it all down. He rescues his good buddy Lawrence and heads to, of all places, Pariah. There we get a brilliant cameo from Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Gus Fring) playing the current version of El Lazo (Spanish for lasso or loop). The MIB needs an army and tries to persuade Lazo to join him but is rejected. After years of being stuck in a story loop that never let him achieve his goals, he and his men finally succeed in laying waste to the town they’ve been assaulting for years, and it means nothing. We then get a story about elephants which  appears to answer why so many hosts have continued their narratives even after Ford’s big rules overhaul. They simply haven’t realized they could be doing something else. With Lazo having no purpose left he and his men shoot each other and form a loop around the MIB.

With this being a solo game now the MIB cryptically tells Lawrence where they’re headed to next: his greatest mistake.

I assume he and Dolores are headed on a crash course, she and her group keep talking about a valley beyond. After she commandeer’s the confederado’s with the help of the tech from earlier she tells Teddy where they’re headed to: “It’s not a place. It’s a weapon. And I’m going to use it to destroy them.”

All in all this was a great episode with lots of information that we desperately needed. We were finally given some of the bigger picture such that it feels like we have some sort of idea of what’s at stake.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Diagnostics

  • Maeve and Dolores finally met in a scene reminiscent of Ford’s and the MIB’s from last season. Dolores tried to recruit her but Maeve is focused on finding her daughter showing that the hosts new consciousness will differ (not everyone wants to topple the establishment)
  • also Lee dressed as a stable boy was hilarious
  • It was hinted more than once that James Delos doesn’t have much time health wise and that he had to retire early. At the same time certain plans related to that are not yet ready according to William. What could that be?
  • William’s wife didn’t look happy when we saw her, will we see more of their eventual relationship breakdown?
  • we got a CGI version of a younger Ford in the opening scene (I’ll take what I can get

Make sure to catch new episodes of Westworld every Sunday on HBO and keep it locked on TGON for all your news, reviews and analysis.

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