After a solid setup in the premiere, the second episode of Westworld season two kicks everything into high gear in an incredible hour of television. Forgive me for the long recap, A LOT happens.
The episode begins in the past, with Arnold having brought Dolores to a city in the outside world (what!?). There is some Asian writing on the walls outside — perhaps it’s Hong Kong? Arnold says he’s bringing his family here so that his two worlds are closer together. “It looks like the stars have been scattered across the ground. Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” she says. This line is repeated throughout the episode, but this is the first of a few times. Arnold and a younger Robert have a discussion about whether or not Dolores is “ready” yet and Robert accuses Arnold of picking favorites. Robert leaves, and Arnold promises Dolores he will bring her back here one day.
Cut to the opening credits, and then present day, where Dolores and Teddy bust into one of the stations where they’re just learning of the host takeover. One of the men tells Dolores, “You have no idea what you’re up against…what’s really out there.” “I know exactly what is out their in your world.” Cue the minimalist piano version of Kanye West’s “Runaway”. Moments of Dolores in the real world flash on and off the screen. “I’ve been there before,” she says. Chills. It then seamlessly transitions to young William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes) at a business meeting in what is presumably a city in Asia.
William leaves the meeting to get some sleep, blaming the jet lag. A man and a woman approach Logan and say they’re from the Argos Initiative. Logan bids the man he’s sitting with farewell and seems excited to finally meet these people. The man says Logan will understand their need for confidentiality when he sees what they’re building.
He’s brought to what appears to be a private party, and he’s initially offended thinking they’re trying to push their company and its employees upon him rather than demonstrate what they’re building. The woman assures Logan that this is a private demonstration, and that it’s already begun. He thinks that means one of these people is actually a robot/host and she tells him to try and figure out who. He walks around the room, studying everyone. Logan eventually thinks he has come to the realization that the woman he’s been dealing with is actually the host herself. He’s losing his mind at how “perfect” she is and says she’s too perfect to be real. She laughs and all of a sudden, everyone but her freezes in place. Logan looks stunned. Even the other man who brought him to the demonstration has frozen. “Welcome to Westworld,” she says. We see the face of the woman who’s been playing the piano, and it’s Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan – fun fact, she plays piano in real life). They’re ALL hosts. BOOM!
The woman then sleeps with Logan, fully securing his investment, and in the morning we see Dolores looking at the woman getting out of bed. This means that this is most likely the same time Dolores was out in the real world that we saw in the opening scene with Arnold. Flash back to the present, and Teddy is finally being shown that he’s not a real human being. He’s angry to say the least.
Meanwhile, the Man in Black rescues Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) from being killed by a few men out in the middle of nowhere. They ride together to a bar where MiB retrieves something from inside the wall behind the bar that he calls “cheating”, although he’s okay with it given the rules have all changed. He sits down with Lawrence and tells him the truth about how he’s not really a human. He also explains how at the park, they were tallying up and keeping tracks of visitors’ sins and that they weren’t doing it for judgment, but for an entirely different reason. I wonder what reason that was? It feels like that’s going to lead somewhere.
Dolores is currently torturing a Westworld employee into telling her how many people will come after the hosts. He thinks it could be 600, 800, he’s not 100% sure. He knows that the protocol is to lock down the park one sector at a time and he reveals where their rallying point will be. Dolores then asks the man if he even knows what he’s really guarding at this place. She says that he doesn’t know, but that she does. All of this mystery, first with the Man in Black and now Dolores. We need to know!
Flash back to young William at the park with James Delos (Logan’s father), and he’s trying to tell William that his son made a mistake by investing in Westworld. William gives quite the speech, telling him that this is the only place in the world where nobody is watching or judging guests (or so they tell the guests). This is the only place in the world where you get to see people for who they really are. William tells Mr. Delos that if he doesn’t see the business in that, then he’s not the business man he thought he was. “There’s not a man alive who’d talk to me like that…not anymore,” Delos says. William has his attention.
In the present again, Dolores crosses paths with Maeve (Thandie Newton). She tries to convince Maeve to join them in fighting the humans, but Maeve has no desire to. She just wants to pass freely, which she does despite some tension. Dolores finds her way into a building, where some host soldiers are eating. They’re led by a man played by actor Jonathan Tucker (who we also happened to see in the demonstration scene for Logan earlier on this episode). I’m a big fan of Jonathan Tucker — he did phenomenal work on the three season MMA series Kingdom — so I’m happy to see him join the cast of Westworld. Anyways, Dolores has brought them one of their Lieutenants who they saw killed. She says she wants to join forces with them, something Tucker’s character is not open to. He makes his final decision, and Dolores and her clan kill all of the men. She then has the technician she brought with her wake Tucker back up, and she makes sure he’s realized who’s in control. He seems scared, a bit confused, and definitely ready to follow her now.
We head to Mr. Delos’s retirement party, and Dolores is back in the real world playing piano at the event. She’s looking out at the city skyline later on that night, and she repeats the line “have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” from earlier in the episode. She realizes Logan is actually sitting behind her, doing some sort of drug, and he starts telling her how foolish the others are. He may not be as dumb as he appears, as he tells her that while they’re celebrating what they’ve done with Westworld, they’ve actually just lit the match to the end of their own civilization…
The Man in Black and Lawrence make it to Pariah where they meet with El Lazo, a character that Lawrence once played in the past. MiB tries to convince El Lazo and his men to join him on their quest, but El Lazo ends up having all his men kill themselves. He then tells MiB, “I’ll see you in the valley beyond William,” and takes his own life. MiB is frustrated. He realizes this isn’t going to be easy, so it’s time to find another way. He tells Lawrence it was him, not Robert, who built this place, and that the place they’re heading to is his biggest mistake.
We transition to young William in diagnostics with Dolores. It’s vacant outside of them two. He tells her to bring herself back online. “You really are just a thing. I can’t believe I fell in love with you.” He tells her what saved him: she didn’t make him interested in her, but she made him interested in himself. She’s a reflection, and as William states, everybody loves looking at their own reflection. William isn’t so nice anymore. But there’s even more to it than that he tells her…a question that no one has ever even dreamed of asking. He asks Dolores if she wants to see it. They head out to an area of the park and he is the one to now say the line “have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” We see something being built, but it’s hard to tell what it is.
We’re back in the present with Dolores and Teddy, and they start to talk about making it to Glory, or whatever people decide to call it. Dolores turns to Teddy. “It doesn’t matter what you call it. I know what we’re going to find there. An old friend was foolish enough to show me…long ago. And it’s not a place. It’s a weapon. And I’m gonna use it to destroy them.” WHAT. AN. EPISODE.
Seriously, what a fantastic episode. We got some great backstory on Westworld, we got to see young William, Logan, James, Arnold. We found out that Dolores has been out of the park multiple times. The Man in Black had a couple epic speeches and his story progresses quite a bit as this new game is “finding him.” Dolores and Teddy’s present story is also heating up, and a lot of things are starting to make sense. Fingers crossed we get some of the two weeks in the future timeline next week, and one thing is certain: I cannot wait for next Sunday.
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