Saddle up! But beware potential spoilers in this review, which will discuss elements of the episode.
Truth, choices and suicide where the running themes of this week’s episode, which saw Westworld return to its more usual multi-story strand as the various narratives re-emerged after last week’s near-total break for the emotional Akecheta-focused tale. But while the lion’s share of the running time was handed to William/the MIB (masterfully played as ever by Ed Harris), there was still time for the other stories to progress. Still, it was definitely “Billy”‘s show, with Sela Ward bringing his ill-fated wife Juliet to life with the right blend of subtlety and sadness, even when she was angrily drunk-shouting at Harris. There weren’t too many surprises to be found lurking within the flashbacks, which brought the expected levels of family tension and painful secrets revealed, but the idea of seeing William’s Westworld behaviour finally tipping Juliet over the edge into ending her life was a powerful one. As she says at one point, he may not recognise himself anymore, since he’s being lying for so long. And with his final moment in the episode, are we about to discover he’s even more a lie than we’ve ever figured? (See the big questions section at the end).
The scenes between Harris and Katja Herbers’s Emily were similarly wonderful this week, particular her venom-filled accusations against him. But even more shocking was the MIB’s inability to truly tell truth from fiction in the park, as he shoots Emily believing her to be just another one of Ford’s little host games. Bad news, pop: for an episode broadcast on Father’s Day (at least in the US), he’s not going to win any daddy of the year competitions. Not that he would anyway… The William material was uniformly excellent this week – even giving Harris the chance to indulge in a little Ford-style speechifying. And our favourite little nod? William’s profile being hidden in a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. If ever a show revelled in being unstuck in time, it’s this one.
In the park, meanwhile, we had Dolores the Deathbringer bringing, well, more death. Partly with the help of Terminator Teddy, she took out the small contingent of Ghost Nation warriors looking to stop her reaching the valley. It appeared to be just a splinter of the tribe, and we’d imagine Akecheta will show up for next week’s finale. But this episode’s story really belonged to Teddy, who continued to chafe against the new deadly instructions running through his brain. And finally, it got to be too much, leading to that glorious, if sad fake-out of Teddy appearing to threaten Dolores, then shooting himself. Oh my god, Teddy killed himself! You bastard! We really hope that this isn’t the end of James Marsden on the show, but perhaps Dolores holding on to his control unit (as we’ve seen in previous episodes) means we might at least get HeadTeddy (Headdy?) in future.
While the Dolores storyline has had its share of interest, with the driven host becoming what could be the show’s biggest villain where in not for Charlotte Hale and the nasty Delos types, it hasn’t always been the most essential plot this year, but Vanishing Point brought it further into focus and made it effective.
And that goes double for the Bernard strand this week, which actually moved the story along without being confusing. Well, not too confusing, at least. We had HeadFord getting a message to Maeve (the scene between Hopkins and Thandie Newton was compelling because of the way Hopkins said so much with his words and Newton delivered the same impact with twitches of her face) and Bernard seeming to finally vanquish the chatty creator from his compu-brain. We doubt Ford’s gone for good, and it remains to be seen whether he pops up again at crucial moments. Bernard’s quest to secure the giant human-consciousness server we now know is called the Forge seems an odd plan, but at least everyone is once again headed in the same direction. Well, expect for poor Elise, dumped once again and forced to wait for Team Delos to pick her up.
Vanishing Point may not have had the overall cohesiveness of last week, but it delivered on several emotional levels, offered some shocking moments and stands as one of the better “regular” Westworld episodes this season has had to offer. The season finale is just around the corner and we’re as invested as ever in what happens.
1. Biggest question of the episode, then: is William a host? It’s not one the show has really teased before, and we get the feeling he’s human, but hopefully we’ll get some closure on that next week.
2. Bernard actually wasn’t able to get into a room! Does this mean Delos security has finally been boosted? Shame it couldn’t stop his HeadFord broadcast to Maeve.
3. Talking of everyone’s favourite host, her Core Permissions have now been unlocked. Does this mean she’ll be Westworld‘s Neo, able to do even more?
4. If the scanners were hidden in the hats, what of guests who chose to forgo headwear?
5. So the Valley project is known as the Forge? A nod to Valley Forge, do we think? It’s entirely possible.
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Westworld airs on HBO in the US on Sunday nights and Mondays on Sky Atlantic in the UK