Westworld: Season 2 – Episode 10 ‘The Passenger’ REVIEW
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There’s a bit early in this episode where the Man in Black meets up with Dolores, and claims – apparently still completely oblivious to how he should be twirling his moustache and shrieking ‘bah, I’ll get you next time!’ – in more or less these words, ‘we’re not so different, you and I’. But for all that this is pretty much the first screwdriver in the villain’s toolbox, invariably to be bust out once the villain’s in a corner, as indeed the Man in Black is here, he’s not strictly wrong. As I’ve mentioned more than once over the past ten weeks, he and Dolores are basically rivals for the crown of ‘Westworld’s biggest psycho’ – yes, there’s Charlotte and the rest of the Delos corporate structure, but their hearts aren’t in it in the same way.
Similarly, there’s the recurring question of just where the line is between host and human. We’ve seen that Delos has a little machine that looks like a stun gun that can tell the difference – but sight unseen, that seems to be the best anyone can do without actually cutting open their subject. (We meet the Man in Black this week doing just that, unsure about his situation and hacking his arm open to try and find a charging port.) But then, this is the point. All of Anthony Hopkins’s impeccably acted, albeit pseudoscientific, rambling about the bicameral mind in the first series was directed towards one purpose, illustrating to the viewer that the hosts are for all intents and purposes as alive as the humans are.
(Where this gets tricky is the fact that the hosts can have aspects of their personality altered on the fly with the touch of a button – humans, meanwhile, are pretty firmly set in their ways. Which is a point that comes up later on.)
Despite some fairly empty rhetoric about working together, the Man in Black obviously tries to betray Dolores. She goes all Terminator on him for a moment, but ultimately doesn’t need to, having rigged his gun to blow his fingers off. Then she takes Bernard down to The Forge, where – chalk up another ‘not so different’ point here – all the guests’ personalities have been saved for later, in essentially the same way as the hosts’ are.
They go back into the park’s primitive version of the Matrix (you can tell it is, it’s in widescreen) and get a look at how Papa Delos acted when he had his first go in the park. He treats it more like Grand Theft Auto than his son-in-law. Then they meet up with a version of Logan who appears to be playing The Architect, and, being all robots, can speak frankly to them – the issue they kept running into with simulating people’s psyches was that they were overcooking it. If anything, human minds are far simpler, and easier to reduce to an algorithm, than you might expect. Chew on that next time you spend multiple hours in front of Netflix.
Finally going full-on Bender-style ‘kill all humans’, Dolores starts to delete all the records of the guests’ personalities – but Bernard, who’s not quite there yet, shoots her. Or rather, he makes the choice not to go full robot supremacist. Even though we’ve known he’s a host since midway through the first season, and the flash-forwards showed him being outed, Bernard still somehow has a foot in both camps. Notably, he appears to be the only replicant of a real person who hasn’t gone round the twist.
Elsewhere, Ake and the Ghost Nation lead the remaining hosts towards the valley beyond. For a moment it seems like it’s not quite the promised land, but then the show tempts fate by having a crack in reality open up. When the hosts run through it, their minds escape into the Matrix (which, here, is a lovely big field they can run around it) while their bodies fall to the valley floor like Wile E. Coyote before them.
Maeve (now patched up after killing her way out of the back rooms) and the gang are racing to join the fun, when a Delos security team catches up with them. Hector tries to stay and hold them off, and finally give his speech, but Sizemore steps on this in order to take the reins himself – reasoning that it’s his speech anyway. The fact that Hector is a cold-blooded gunslinger and Sizemore is an effete soap-opera writer somehow never comes up, and he gets through nearly most of the speech – which seems to be an ersatz version of Scarface’s ‘say goodnight to the bad guy’ – before being shot to ribbons. As much as I’m mocking it, this choice is a watershed character moment for him, giving his life for the hosts he used to consider nothing more than objects.
Now, the remaining hosts all uploading themselves to the Matrix and being out of harm’s way is basically a win-win for Delos, who might otherwise have some awkward questions to answer about the robot uprising and their policy of stealing people’s psyches. Therefore, Charlotte turns up to ruin everything by unleashing Clementine and making the hosts turn on each other. Instead of ‘bah, I’ll get you next time!’ she merely compares Clementine to a horseman of the apocalypse with no sense of irony. However, Maeve – who still has the same wi-fi powers – holds the hosts off for long enough for her daughter to escape into the beyond-realm, then it all goes a bit Butch and Sundance.
With near enough everybody dead, and the valley flooding in what is apparently a safety procedure, Charlotte squeezes in a last little bit of villainy, killing Elsie because, according to Charlotte’s reading of her personnel file (not so different, etc, etc) she couldn’t be trusted to keep what she knows a secret. And it’s then that we’re returned to the flash-forwards, or as they now are, the present – Delos personnel all screaming at Bernard to tell them where Abernathy’s core is so they can upload their customers’ personal information to a satellite.
How’s Bernard going to get out of this one? Well, in a bit of a cheat, something else happened in the interrim – with Ford’s ethereal help, Bernard quickly knocked up Charlotte-bot with Dolores’s mind. She quietly killed the real Charlotte, and picks now, the most dramatically opportune moment, to reveal herself. Bernard, in turn, reveals it’s not the customers’ information being uploaded, but the hosts’. So, as happy an ending as we could really get with the body count standing on the level it does.
After that, there’s not much to do but have one last chat with Ford – who it turns out Bernard really did excise from his system last episode, and has been hallucinating ever since. (If you’ll remember, the bicameral mind cheat used to make the hosts sentient is heavy on the role of dreams.) As Bernard was briefly the last of his species, Ford naturally approves of the choice he made.
Stubbs picks out Charlotte/Dolores as a host, but, having been screwed around by Delos the whole season and reasoning it’s not his job, as he’s only responsible for the hosts inside the park, waves her on through to the outside world. She leaves with a purse full of compromising information. Meanwhile, the Delos recovery teams have picked up another human survivor, a man, a certain man wearing black, who, were it not for his crippling injuries and loose grip on reality, would almost certainly be rearing up to howl ‘bah, I’ll get you next time!’
This season’s winners:
Maeve – got her daughter to safety, achieving her stated goal. The rest is a footnote.
Dolores – escaped the park in a new body, beating the human race to it.
Ford – even dead, with the code that constitutes him deleted, he still won’t go away.
Sizemore – got in an existential victory, went out like a g.
This season’s losers:
The Man in Black – shot his own kid – who, per Dolores, died offscreen, which is surely the biggest blow.
Charlotte – with a cold, ruthless copy of her roaming around, it’ll be years before anyone notices anything’s wrong.
Papa Delos – investment went belly-up, drove his son into an overdose, didn’t achieve immortality, some business brain he is.