Westworld: Vanishing Point, Review

***SPOILER WARNING***

If you have not seen the ninth episode of season 2 Vanishing Point 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.

In this the penultimate episode of the season we spend the bulk of our time with William both in the present and in the past. Regardless of the timeline however, the picture the show paints is not pretty.

We finally get more concrete information about his wife (played in flashback by Sela Ward), her suicide, and how William’s actions contributed to her death. This information is framed in the present as a confrontation between William and his daughter, Emily.

The flashbacks start at a lavish party celebrating William in the real world. “Look around, everybody’s here for you,” Juliette tells him while downing one of many glasses of champagne. Then as if on cue, William thinks he sees Dolores in the crowd, and it becomes obvious that she, and the park, are where his heart truly lies.

William grabs a drink at the bar — something he normally reserves for his time in the park. There, he runs into Ford. “You’ve achieved extraordinary things, ask anyone in this room,” Ford tells him. “Even those who don’t know about your little project.”

William tells Ford that they have an agreement: Delos stays out of Ford’s stories, and Ford stays out of the Valley. “I didn’t break the agreement,” Ford counters. “Your project did.”

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Back in the present day, William wonders how Emily found him in the first place, and when she suggests it’s fate, he waves her off. “But there are accidents. Things you can’t control,” Emily says. “Is that why you started it? Your little project? She then asks how they got all the data and William reveals that there are scanners in the hats provided when the guests enter the park.

It’s also not clear what Ford was talking about in the past. Nevertheless, he hands over a card containing William’s data profile which Ford warns is not flattering. William eventually leaves and in the ensuing scenes, the rest of that fateful night plays out: Juliette accuses William of being a “virus” that has destroyed her father, her brother, and now her. Emily walks in on her parents’ fight and insists that her mother go into rehab for her alcoholism. William puts Juliette to bed and hides the card Ford gave to him in their bedroom.

Later that night, William and Emily discuss what to do, when they notice water dripping from the chandelier. William rushes upstairs to find the bathtub overflowing, and Juliette lifeless — an empty bottle of pills beside her.

Back in the present, Emily reveals that she no longer blames herself for her mother’s death. This is because Juliette left the data card for her and now she knows what kind of person he is. She tells him that she’s going to expose him to everyone but before she can go further a Delos team arrives to rescue them.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

William, delusional by this point, thinks they are just more of Ford’s drones and kills them all. Shocked, Emily assures him they were human. However, before she can say more he guns her down as well. He thinks she’s a host as well since he never told anyone about the card and he hid it when Juliette was asleep. He examines her body but finds that she’s holding the data card. William has just killed his own daughter.

In a flashback we see William putting Juliette to bed. He tells his wife that every negative feeling or suspicion she has about him is warranted. “I don’t belong to you, or this world,” he confesses. “I belong to another world. I always have.” He leaves the room and Juliette opens her eyes, she was awake the whole time. She finds the card and plays its contents: all of the atrocities that William has done during his time in the park. Before she takes her life she hides the card in a place her daughter would find it.

In the present, William is emotionally distraught and rides as far as he can. He reaches a desert plane and pulls his gun on himself. He doesn’t shoot but instead takes out his knife and begins to pierce his skin into his right forearm (where the hosts ‘usb’ ports are).

While we don’t see what happens next the episode drives home the tragedy, taking full measure of William’s all-consuming obsession and the destruction it has caused in his life. At times, the Man in Black has appeared to be a force for good, relentless in exposing the park for what it really is. But now, the true corruption (“the stain,” as he calls it) is within him, and continuing to play Dr. Ford’s “game” has just forced him to confront it. His paranoia leads him to the shocking mistake of believing his daughter is one of Ford’s tricks, a host sent to knock him off the path. Whatever flicker of humanity he had left has been snuffed out.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

“Vanishing Point” keenly ties William/the Man in Black’s downward trajectory to that of Dolores, whose own bloody, relentless quest for vengeance has taken a moral toll. For hosts like Dolores, freedom and the power of self-awareness also means taking responsibility for your choices, and her desire to get to “the weapon” and use it against her former captors has obliterated her conscience. Changing Teddy from an earnest simpleton to a coldhearted gunslinger was only the capper to a violent campaign in which she — and she alone — has determined who is fit to reach the Valley Beyond.

In the B storyline we see Team Dolores make their way to the Valley only to be confronted by the Ghost Nation. They tell her that she cannot pass and that the valley is not meant for her. The two sides break out into violence and only Teddy and Dolores remain. Teddy can’t bring himself to kill one of the natives who runs away.

At the end of the episode the two reach a run down stable for a break. There Teddy comes clean. Like William’s wife, kind-hearted Teddy has watched his significant other slowly reveal their true colors, and he is sickened by what he sees. Worse, Dolores intentionally warped Teddy into a monster and Teddy doesn’t see the point in survival if it means turning into his worst enemy. So after a season of being pulled around like Dolores’ pretty puppet, Teddy takes his life into his own hands, and shoots himself.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Dolores, shocked, breaks down and cries as she was forced to confront what she has done to the one person who truly loved her. The deaths of Teddy and Emily have a terrible finality to them for Dolores and William, who are now permanently condemned figures in whatever world they attempt to conquer.

Diagnostics

  • The Valley Beyond is actually called The Forge. It’s where all the data about the parks guests is stored; like the The Cradle but bigger
  • Ford and Maeve: prior to leaving the Mesa in the post rebellion timeline Bernard reaches Maeve and she’s able to access his mind to retrieve a message from Ford. Bernard leaves to find Elsie but Ford speaks to Maeve. He tells her that she’s his favourite and that he plotted her escape but respects her decision to go back for her child. He then gives her “core-level” access to her own system, potentially making her even more powerful than she was before.
  • Ford and Bernard: It seems like Ford is pushing Bernard to enlightenment or at least trying to by coaxing him to violence. Here he tells him to kill Elsie but Bernard refuses. Instead Bernard deletes a file in his system that seemingly wipes Ford from his mind. He then drives off to The Forge alone
  • at the The Mesa Charlotte and her tech find a way to mimic Maeve’s powers onto Clementine, giving them a bit of an edge going into the finale

 

 

 

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