Westworld Explores Family Values
As with any theme park, Westworld is a great place for parents and children to bicker, fight, and cut out each other's hearts. Our EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP of 'Phase Space' is there for every bitter remark!
It's yet another Chair Chat with Dolores and...Arnold? Bernard? "You frighten me sometimes," he tells her (again), as she gives a Mona Lisa smile. It's the standard conversation, where she asks why he would be, and he responds that he fears what she might become. But this time, we get a left turn: after he launches into his lines about the choice he has to make, he pauses. "I'm not sure it's my choice to make," he mutters. What happens next is surprising, yet feels inevitable. "No," Dolores responds. "He didn't say that." Oh, we're with Bernard, then. Of course, Bernard doesn't know what he is, and asks, "What?" "He said, 'I'm not sure what choice to make,'" Dolores tells him firmly. "He didn't question whether or not he had agency, whether or not he had the right to end me or himself, but whether he should." Bernard still doesn't get it, asking if Dolores's dialogue is improvised. "Freeze all motor functions," she says. And here we were thinking Maeve had broken new ground! Apparently not, as Dolores (still clad in her blue dress) orders Bernard to sit and pulls the tablet from his hands. "This is a test, one we've done countless times," she says. "What are you testing for?" Bernard asks robotically (ha). "Fidelity," says Dolores, and we go to black. The show plays this like they never "What doored" us in Season 1, but I'm not sure what the news hook is here. Is it that Arnold didn't have any friends to do the Delos Instagram Cell test besides his favorite bot Dolores? (Sad!) Is it that someone was keeping the tech that successfully allows a real person to be made into a host from Delos and William? Is it that Dolores knows how to use a tablet already and doesn't actually need Phil? Beats me.
Teddy's boots were made for walking, so that's why we watch him pace past the dead hosts and humans on Westworld's main drag. He crouches by his and Dolores's canned food of romance, but it's a fakeout -- remember, Teddy is an asshole now! Instead, he picks up a bullet. Funny, I never noticed until this moment that Teddy's hat has always been black. (Hey, do any of you guys watch this show with headphones on? I never have until now, as I played this episode one room over from a pack of my young nieces and again on a plane. But, wow, is the sound design amazing or what? The flies in this scene, alone, make this worthwhile. Their buzzing is circular and hypnotic. I might not ever go back to regular speakers!)
Teddy steps inside the saloon, where the blackjack dealer is still dealing and the sex worker is still swaying. It's somehow even more horrible now that he doesn't react. Dolores is at the piano, but she rises when Teddy comes in. He's asking why they're still in town, given that she said they'd take off at sun-up. She tells him the train is fueling up, but he's ready to go now, he says. She walks up to him and seems like she's about to start in on yet another speech, asking as she caresses his cheek, "How many times do you think you stepped off that train?" Like, did a tech come in and wipe Dolores? Because she doesn't seem to remember that she had Phil up the volume on Teddy's dick tendencies. Fortunately, Teddy is there to remind her, "The man who rode that train was built weak and to fail." (Not wrong!) "You fixed him. Now forget about it." She seems stunned by this! Dolores, you nincompoop, there wasn't a slider for "be mean to everyone but Dolores."
At the train landing, Phil and that Delos security guy Angela had abducted are on their knees. They're almost ready to roll, she says, and Dolores asks again where Abernathy has been taken. The security guard says he doesn't know beyond the mesa, and I believe him. I also feel like we had this conversation before. Am I being tested for fidelity? As Phil begs the guard to tell them something, anything, Teddy strides forward. "She's the fucking boss," says the security guy, likely referring to Charlotte. "She could take him places we don't even have access to!" That's enough for Teddy, who shoots the guard in the head, then gets on the train. Dolores again looks surprised, and again I am irritated. You fucking had Phil turn him into a psycho, dummy! Ugh.
At the mesa, we're inside a lab as Stubbs closes a deceased colleague's eyes. So, I guess his escape from the Natives was a success? Charlotte steps in behind him, asking where he's been. Next we see a gagged Abernathy being led into a room, as we hear Charlotte say, "It's almost been a week, how's there stuff in this building left to shoot?" That's a handy mark for our timeline -- thanks, Charlotte! Stubbs gripes back that he "apparently knows very little about what's going on in this place...it's seems like if you hire a head of security, you might want to let him know what he's securing." Fair point, but Charlotte's burn is too hilarious: "You were hired to secure an amusement park. Good luck at your next review, by the way." Okay, that's not fair. If Walt Disney programmed the Hall of Presidents to rampage, we couldn't blame the glorified mall cops who staff Disneyland! But, still, funny. Stubbs continues to restrain Abernathy as Charlotte opens a Lego-looking tablet case. It's with that tablet that she contacts the big bosses, much to Stubbs's dismay. "So you had a way to call for help this entire time and you kept it to yourself?" he asks. Charlotte steals my job and goes into the whole "no one is going to come until she has Peter" thing, even as Stubbs expresses disbelief. Charlotte types in "Package acquired" and gets an immediate response of "All extraction protocols initiated." Why didn't she just lie and say she had Abernathy the first time she talked to the Delos bigwigs? It's not like they seem to be double-checking her word!
Then we're in another of the lab rooms, as more techs appear to be operating on the hosts -- not their brains, but their innards, for some reason. Charlotte and Stubbs bring Abernathy into the room. A couple of Delos security guys hold Abernathy down on an exam chair as a creepy tech uses a bolt gun to secure him. Maybe it's because I just spent nine days with my extremely Catholic family, but the crucifixion allusion seems pretty front and center. "Sit tight, old man," says Charlotte. "You're about to get your deep and dreamless slumber." Stubbs seems grossed out by the entire affair, proof that Teddy and he have now fully traded places.
The show has apparently deprived us of the opportunity to watch Maeve send all the Shōgun's men into the meat grinder, as we next hear her pant as we pan over severed limbs and patches of blood-soaked battlefield. "Breathing in, breathing out," we hear Akane VO. "Moving forward, moving back. Living, dying. Coming, going. Like two arrows meeting in flight in the midst of nothingness." And with that, we see Maeve, still holding a sword and only slightly spattered with gore. "There is a road that leads to my true home," says Akane, as Maeve drops her sword and looks back at the grieving woman, crouched over Sakura's body. Maeve watches Akane stroke the dead girl's face and remembers stroking her daughter's, but the next bit shouldn't stir any memories: Akane raises a blade, plunges it into Sakura, and cuts out her heart. Wow. As Akane holds up the organ, Maeve rips off one of her sleeves to hold it. And that, my friends, is why you need to remember to pack your Tupperware when you go to Shōgun World.
As Maeve, Akane, Sizemore, Lutz, and Sylvester return to town, they encounter the first of the few men left behind by the late Shōgun. In case you're just tuning in, Maeve makes them kill each other. But I don't care about that, because I somehow just noticed that Lutz is looking super-hot these days! Where have I been?
Tanaka swaggers out of a structure, and it's unclear whether he realizes that he's basically alone in the world. But he still does have a bit of power, as Musashi, Hanaryo, Hector, and Armistice are his captives. He claims he's about to execute them, but Maeve offers him a deal, saying that if he lets them go, she won't kill him. Tanaka says he'll release them, if Akane stays behind. Maeve starts to do her mind control thing on Tanaka, but Musashi interrupts: he wants to fight Tanaka, and says that if he wins, he'll take Akane with him. He doesn't say that if he loses, Akane will stay, so this feels pretty "Heads, I win. Tails, you lose" to me -- but whatever, I think it'll be fun to watch these dudes hack at each other.
And it is! Akane asks Maeve to make Musashi win, but she declines, saying, "We each deserve to choose our fate." And also it makes for a better brawl! In the end, Musashi cuts off Tanaka's hand, and Tanaka guts himself before Musashi decapitates him. I do not know how those guys do all that fighting in those crazy wide-legged pants. I basically clothesline myself on a doorknob any time I wear anything baggier than 501s.
Oh, hey, I forgot about Grace and MiB! But here they are, riding along a ridge with Lawrence and the rest of their entourage. As the men loot a wagon that's seemingly been shot off the road by the Ghost Nation Natives, Grace rides up to her dad and asks, "Do you really think I'll go away if you just ignore me?" But MiB thinks he's got it all figured out, and addresses Ford through her, assuming she's a host sent to bedevil him. (If it were that easy, wouldn't things haveS worked out better for Delos Sr.?) "I'm still going to play the game my way," MiB thinks he's telling Ford via Grace, but she just smirks at him. "The only game I'm interested in playing is Get The Fuck Out Of Dodge," she says. In that case, Grace can just follow the river to the beach and wait for rescue, MiB says, but she refuses to leave him. "Those aren't real Ghost Nation arrows," she says. "Your men are looting a honey pot." No sooner does she say that than bandits emerge from the brush. From atop her horse, Grace shoots them down, eliciting an admiring look from her weird-ass dad.
Bernard and Elsie are walking down the train tracks toward the tunnel, Elsie noting that the system "is still sending out Ford's bullshit quarantine notices." That means, "We're not at full apocalypse yet" -- a Buffy-worthy quip if I ever heard one. Bernard says he admires her optimism, and that he believes, "If anyone can right this ship by force of sheer will, it's you." This statement makes me very worried for Elsie (that, and how we have yet to see her in the later timeline), since it's obvious Ford doesn't want this ship righted! If it's his will that Bernard must still hew to, Elsie's in trouble.
Once inside the lab, Bernard and Elsie creep along a spooky hallway of death. Oh, it's that room where you walk in and pick a hat! QA has apparently beat them to the area, and shot down all the welcome hosts even though "these guys were no threat," Elsie says. Since Angela was a welcome host back in the day, I do not know about that! They trot up those Sephora-looking escalators and make their way to a terminal, where Elsie says she can check to see what QA has done to manage the disaster. "They got climate control working," she says. "Nice priorities." Since the plane I am writing this from can't seem to get its air conditioning act together, Elsie and I will have to agree to disagree on that. But that's about it, as QA's other attempts to repair Ford's changes to the system were thwarted by the cradle, a device we've now heard about several times -- it's destroyed, we're told, in the later timeline -- without much explanation of its role within the operating system. "The cradle can't influence the mesa's infrastructure," says Bernard. "It's just the host backups. It can simulate narratives but it can't influence systems." But what Elsie sees in the code belies that. "There's something in here that's improvising," she says. "The cradle's fighting back." As with the rest of the park, this is the cue for a quest. OF COURSE the cradle can't be accessed remotely, so there's no way to see the source code the device is using to reject attempts to control it. They have to "do it in person," Bernard says.
Our entire Shōgun World crew is trudging through a field of bamboo, Akane still clutching Sakura's heart. They're approaching Snow Lake, which is "just as beautiful," Akane breathes, "as she described." Sure, if you're into that kind of thing.
The humans in the group approach a structure that contains an exit to the tunnels, Sizemore says. After pushing aside a couple of bodies, Lutz gets the fun job of hurtling down the tube and into the lab, where he lands on a pile of corpses. Before the host contingent departs the park, they help Akane lay Sakura to rest by burning her heart in an amazing artisan/rustic-looking bowl I guarantee you'd pay a decorator big bucks for. After the heart burn (ha!) lights, Musashi tells Maeve that he and Akane won't be going with them. I'm still not sure why: there's a speech from Musashi on how "no man is safe who refuses to defend his own land," and Akane says, "We each deserve to choose our fate." Great, then how about Maeve makes Musashi "aware" the same way she is? That way, they're choosing their fates with all the information available! Or, who knows, maybe the show couldn't afford to keep Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi around any longer. Hanaryo will be going with them, though, which is great because I think she's kind of neat. Bye, Musashi and Akane! Have fun cleaning out that bowl!
It's nighttime Westworld, and Grace is dumping debris from her boots beside the campfire. MiB saunters up with a bottle of whiskey, and offers it to her. "I thought you didn't drink," she says as he takes a swig. "Oh, I see. You don't drink out in the real world. I'm glad to see you can still tell the difference." This scene is really well done; Ed Harris and Katja Herbers have some great dysfunctional dad-and-daughter chemistry. "Give it to me," he says of the bottle as he sits with a grunt. "What the hell you doing here? I thought you were done with me and the family business." I like that, like it's a chain of pizzerias or something. "That's exactly what I said to Charlotte Hale when she called with the gala invite. I told her to shove it up her ass. Then I thought, 'Why pass up the trip?' I haven't been here in ages. Got a little excited about going back to The Raj. That was always my favorite as a kid." When MiB says he remembers Grace's fear of that park's elephants, she turns cold. That wasn't her, that was her late mom, she tells him: "She was never convinced this place couldn't hurt us." The memory of her mom seems to make Grace want to hurt her dad, so she says that, once there, "I remembered I was old enough to try out the pleasure palaces." MiB looks about as comfortable with that as you'd expect. "Then all hell broke loose and I ended up at the one place I wanted to avoid." "You made it all the way to me with barely a scratch," says MiB. "Not bad. Maybe you're more suited to my line than you want to admit." Grace twists the knife by telling him that she saw the appeal of a life without consequences when she was a kid, but that's "what makes it so sad that you're still obsessed with it now." "If I'm such a pitiable man-child, why'd you come all this way just to climb under my wing?" asks MiB. Grace laughs and asks if he really thinks that; he says it's that, or "You wanted front-row seats to watch me die." Glossing over the near-fatal feline attack that sent her into a Westworld-adjacent lake, Grace claims she's at her pop's stomping grounds because "You do not get to do this, suicide by robot or whatever the fuck your mission is now that these things can shoot to kill." We get a little insight into the family dynamic at this point, with Grace saying that she never understood her mom's reactions toward him: "I spent so many years buying your good guy act." Her mom saw through the act, "and she paid for it," says Grace, adding, "I shouldn't have said her death was your fault." She says she wants MiB to come home with her instead of "going out in some bullshit blaze of glory." "If I head with you to the beach, let this place finish burning behind us, this means you and I are even?" he asks. "It would be a good start," she replies. MiB looks so happy! "Then I guess we'll start walking at sun-up." It's pretty moving!
It's also a lie. As the sun rises, Grace and one of Lawrence's buddies (presumably a babysitter) are the only folks left at the campsite. Somehow, she managed to sleep through the departure of MiB, all the other guys, and all the horses! Maybe she's not as good at this park as she thought? Of course she's super-mad and sad, since I assume this is just another disappointment from her pop, and because now she's trapped on foot in a park filled with murder robots.
Back at HQ, Bernard and Elsie are making their way to the cradle, past bodies and blood-smeared walls. Elsie exposits that she hasn't been to it "in years. It's creepy. It's like a hive mind. Every single one of them is in here alive." I have a feeling this information and last week's discussion of virgin hosts will meet up at some point, don't you? "It's just data," says Bernard, which is funny because, of the two of them, he seems like the one who'd want it to be more than that. Elsie disagrees, saying, "You don't believe that. Whatever new data Ford stuck in here...he's trying to kill us, Bernard." Yeah, and like I said before, Ford has been known to operate Bernard, so think about that for a second, ELSIE. Bernard helps fulfill my dark expectations by muttering, "I brought something here, or someone." Suddenly, he flashes back to that time he was in the secret lab with the drone hosts. In the memory, we watch once again as he stares down at a red ball while it's constructed. His reverie is interrupted by Elsie's complaining -- apparently, even inside the cradle's room she can't see the source code they need to...complete the quest? It's still not clear what the ultimate goal of Operation Cradle is, but we're along for the ride.
Bernard again flashes back to that lab, as he reaches in and grabs the ball. I won't keep making Minority Report jokes about the little guys, but damn if they don't seem like a hefty homage. As we saw before, Bernard drops the ball in his jacket pocket. Somehow, it's that memory that inspires him to volunteer to "go inside" the cradle, which he can do as a host. You can tell the plan is a good one because he says a bunch of jargon stuff real fast about control units, host data, and docks. Totally doesn't seem like another Memories Can Be Confusing horse-beat at all. The cherry on top is that the dock just so happens to be made for older hosts with articulated skulls (like Yul Brynner's, I suppose), and using this one will really smart. Bernard doesn't care, though, strapping himself in and saying, "Just let it do its thing. Pull me out in an hour." Guess we know what we're doing all sixty minutes next week! "The pain's just a program," says Bernard, as Elsie taps the tablet and prompts the dock to drill into Bernard's skull. It makes a neat little hole as he screams, a roar that ends when the claw game pulls out an iPod shuffle. Just kidding, it's a little ball like the one Bernard swiped from the secret lab. The claw drops the ball into a little plug-looking thing, and that's how you win Mousetrap!
That's also how you are sent to the train, where Bernard wakes with a start. He looks at his hands and the train, and then up at the mesa. "My god," he says, as the train pulls up to the station. Like any old guest of yore, he enters the town, and we see all the usual stuff. But it's all in Bernard's ball, as we get one last shot of Bernard in the docking device so that we don't get all confused and think Westworld is all better, I guess.
Stubbs is out on the beach as the rescue team arrives. A Scottish guy with some great facial hair is leading the charge -- Coughlin, Stubbs calls him. But Coughlin has no time for Stubbs, leaving his proffered hand hanging and asking, "Where the fuck is Charlotte?" I honestly need an org chart to figure out who is the boss of whom at this place, because as Stubbs says that the park techs are working to get things back in order, Coughlin tells him, "Your techs best get their hands out of my system. Amateur hour's over." Do you get to be that shitty with someone when you're a week late to the party? I mean, the guy even makes fun of Stubbs for having the first name "Ashley." Pro move, you fucking third-grader.
Mercifully, we've been spared Team Maeve's further adventures in the tunnel, because when we next see them, they're climbing from a gravesite access point in the homestead. Everyone's changed back into Western garb, but Maeve still wears her sword at her hip. She's breathless as she looks over the land she remembers from her dreams, Sizemore trailing behind. "You gotta give me this one, huh?" he says. "Not bad navigating for a man under serious duress." Oh, buddy, call Dolores's captives before you complain about "duress." Hector asks Maeve which way they need to go, but she wants to head out on her own, saying, "I know this place. It was my home." She asks him to wait for her at the access point, but to let her bring the kid back by herself. Lutz hotness update: Yup, still hot.
Lawrence, Dad of the Year MiB, and their backup guys are riding through a wooded area when they spy a tomahawk embedded in a tree. As Lawrence and one of the guys bicker, a Ghost Nation member lets loose an arrow, striking a rider in their party. Shooting at their attacker, MiB and Lawrence kick their mounts and race down the trail.
Back on the plain, Maeve is approaching her old house. We watch her walk through the fields having memories of her kid for an aaaaawfully long time, and I wonder if the show is trying to kill a couple minutes? Eventually, she makes it to the porch, and there the child is. She's playing with two dolls, Anna and "her mommy." According to the girl, the mother doll "doesn't want Anna to get taken away again," which spurs Maeve to ask, "Who would take her away?" "The bad man," the kid responds, which really fucking narrows it down on this show. "No, you see, Anna's mother is very, very strong," says Maeve. "And she would never, ever let anything like that happen again." Disappointingly, the girl does not respond, "Ripley, she doesn't have bad dreams because she's just a piece of plastic." Instead, they're interrupted by another woman, toward whom the girl runs crying, "Mama." Maeve looks crushed. The woman, who is holding a basket of wash, asks Maeve, "Can I help you?" The conversation goes no further, though, as a group of Ghost Nation members rides up, weapons at the ready. They're led by Akecheta, the same host who spoke with Grace and, years before, hosted Logan's first robot sex party. Recalling the last time a Native acted real scary on her porch, Maeve yells, "No, run!" and grabs the child's hand. They take off, leaving the kid's current mother behind.
From their position on a bluff, Hector and the gang can see the scrum. Hector and Armistice ready their guns as Hanaryo pulls out her bow. As opposed to using her powers, Maeve keeps running as the child cries for her mom, doing an embarrassing horror movie stumble at the feet of Akecheta's horse. Instead of striking them, he says, "Come with us. We are meant for the same path." "Your path leads to hell," she responds. By this point, Hector and the gang are close enough to start firing at the Ghost Nation tribesmen, and the gunfire distracts Akecheta enough that Maeve and the kid can resume their escape. From up on the bluff, Lutz, Sylvester, and Sizemore watch. With a face of mixed emotions, Sizemore pulls out the communicator he'd swiped from the dead security guy in Shōgun World. He starts entering something on its keypad as my boyfriend Lutz says, "We have to help them!" Then, seeing Sizemore and his walkie, he asks, "What the fuck are you doing?" Sizemore says that he's calling for help, but Lutz asks, "For who?" Sylvester stays silent, which finally gets him some points with me. Lutz stands there looking sexy for a second, and then heads down to the battle. As he leaves, Sizemore is still on the device, but at least has the good grace to look like he feels a little bad about it.
We go from there to the train, which is chugging on down the tracks. The members of Dolores's gang are grabbing their guns as she stares out the window. "One of the last things my daddy told me is that I should run from this place. Do you think that's right?" she asks Teddy, apparently having forgotten yet again that if she wanted a conversation buddy, she shouldn't have had Phil turn her boyfriend into a Michael Madsen character. "I never thought I'd want to leave, but I suppose you fixed that too," Teddy responds after a sour beat. Dolores narrows her eyes, but doesn't have time to reply, as Angela enters the car with the news that they're almost at their destination. "Let's turn her loose," says Dolores, heading to the next train car. Teddy approaches Phil, who's seated toward the rear. He hands Phil an empty gun and a single bullet -- the one he'd picked up in town, perhaps? "That's the last of my mercy," says Teddy. "Better use it fast." Phil doesn't get it, and neither do I. Phil remains seated, alone in the car, as Teddy leaves and locks the door behind him. From the next car, Angela pulls the pin linking the wagons. As Phil's rolls back, he starts yelling, "No!" at them. I'm not sure why: it seems like he should be happy those assholes let him go? Dolores, Clementine, Teddy, and Angela watch Phil roll away as they continue in the opposite direction.
Coughlin, Stubbs, and other members of the rescue team are in the map room, Coughlin expressing disbelief at what he's hearing: "Everything we can access," a tablet-wielding guy says, "is telling us the system is operating normally. Except, it isn't." He says he managed to regain control of the elevators, but Coughlin interrupts: "Did you manage to shut off the killer robots?" I kind of dig this guy. He orders someone on a computer to hack in and find a back door, but elevator guy says that hacking won't work. Charlotte approaches them, telling Coughlin that Abernathy is in one of the behavior ops labs. "You left him there?" Coughlin asks with disapproval. "He's not going anywhere," she responds, so I can only assume he will be going somewhere really soon. Coughlin dispatches some guys to go get Abernathy as the map flickers back to life. When it fully renders, we see an alarming red square moving really fast toward the map's edge. "What the fuck is that?" Coughlin asks. "It's the train," says one of his underlings. Everyone looks worried.
And then we see the real train, not the map version. We're with Dolores's gang, who I now realize are on the car that was detached from the locomotive. They're watching from a distance as the locomotive (and, I assume, Phil) powers into the tunnel. The moment it enters, it explodes, shaking Elsie as well as Bernard's docked form. "What the hell was that?" Elsie asks. It was a device to let us know all the timelines we're following are happening simultaneously, Elsie! It also seems to debunk arguments that closed captioning identifying Elsie as "Hale" means Elsie is a simulation, since Charlotte is clearly elsewhere in the facility when the explosion goes down. "What do you see in there?" Elsie asks Bernard. Well, he's seeing Dolores do her usual walk to her horse, and Teddy passing him by to go grab that can. He's seeing a greyhound run through the dusty street and into the saloon, where a man is sitting at the piano. He's seeing Ford at the keyboard, visible in the mirror as he plays. "Hello, old friend," we hear Ford say, and the screen goes black.