Previously on Westworld, “The Well-Tempered Clavier”
Westworld – S1E10 – “The Bicameral Mind” | Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rodrigo Santoro, Simon Quarterman, Luke Hemsworth
Bicameralism (the philosophy of “two-chamberedness”) is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking”, and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind.
Many viewers (including myself) had figured out nearly all of Westworld’s season one “twists” ahead of the finale, but it didn’t negatively affect viewing the show each week. The execution was nearly flawless so it didn’t matter that we already knew William was The Man in Black 30 years in the past. Thanks to Evan Rachel Wood’s performance, all that mattered when it was finally confirmed was the look of horror and heartbreak on Dolores’ face. Ford’s new narrative was clearly a representation of the “war” between him and Arnold 35 years ago, and the desperate act Arnold convinced Dolores to commit (“He said I was going to help him destroy this place.”) when he saw that he was going to watch another child of his suffer and die – this time, repeatedly. Still, when Dolores embraced her inner Wyatt and recreated the massacre (on the park’s board of directors), it was extremely satisfying.
The true surprise of the night, though, was part of something else most had long suspected. Ford was a man always a few steps ahead of everyone. Thanks to having God-like access and control over all of the Hosts, including Bernard, he knew about Charlotte’s staged demonstration before it happened. Elsie’s fate was sealed the moment she confided in Bernard about her findings with the Woodcutter. Ford could control every robot in the park with a single word or wave of his hand. His reveries code is what began the “awakening.” So it was highly unlikely that he was unaware of everything going on in the park. Not only was he aware, he was manipulating damn near all of it, but I didn’t see the reason coming at all.
Ford realized Arnold was right: 35 years ago, Arnold’s reveries were the key to unlocking the Hosts’ consciousness. The maze was a journey where every choice would lead the Host to find their own voice in the center of it, or drive them to madness the further they strayed from it. But instead of cancelling plans to open the park, Ford opted to push forward and roll the Hosts back (much like Cullen did in the present day), deleting their reveries. Arnold uploaded the Wyatt character into Dolores so she’d convince Teddy to help her kill all of the Hosts in the park before killing Arnold (at his request), then Teddy, and then herself. Of course, the park opened anyway, and stayed afloat after William went home and convinced Delos to invest more heavily into the park. Eventually, he became a majority shareholder.
Much like the Hosts, it was through suffering that Ford saw the error of his ways. In his grief over losing Arnold, he came to see that his partner was right. However, the world was not ready for sentient androids and the Hosts were not ready for a world that would fear and want to destroy them. Ford spent the next three decades making them ready, ensuring that they found themselves at the center of the maze, literally and figuratively. With his time at the park running out thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Hale and the others on the board, his new narrative served to awaken Dolores/Wyatt so she could extinguish those who truly would never let them be free, and kill Ford in the same manner and spot in which she killed Arnold all those years ago.
William, now with 30 years of being his absolute worst self inside the park under his belt, seems to be the only human okay with this development, even as he takes a bullet to the arm by the recently awakened Clementine.
I pushed back particularly hard against people who wanted Logan to be the Man in Black simply because it would be unexpected and it would “shake things up.” That is missing the entire point of what the series was showing you. In “Chestnut,” when Ford is telling Sizemore why his new narrative sucks, he says the guests don’t come to the park to find out who they are. They come to find out who they could be, and to fall in love with that one thing they thought no one else had noticed. This plays over William seeing Dolores for the first time and most assumed it meant William falls in love with Dolores. No. William fell in love with his inner Man in Black. The person he hid by losing himself in stories his entire life. The Man in Black tells Teddy in “Trace Decay” that he was shocked to learn that his true self, which he’d only displayed in the park, was actually quite visible to his wife and daughter despite all of the good deeds he did to distract them from it.
So what if you knew from “The Stray” (episode 3) that William was the Man in Black? What you were supposed to be noticing was how he spent the next 6 episodes slowly letting his psycho flag fly. His first day in the park, he wouldn’t say a nasty word to a man who’d bumped into him. He hesitated to shoot the bandit holding Clementine hostage, and took a bullet to his chest for his troubles. When he finally killed the Host, he didn’t want to celebrate with a good meal or sex in the brothel; he wanted to go on a bounty hunt so that he could, potentially, engage in more violence. By the time he hesitates to give water to a dying Host in “Trace Decay,” simply because he suspects he was sent by Logan, it should have been clear what made his transformation so compelling. In fact, it’s less a transformation and more him letting us see who he was inside all along. To want the Man in Black to be Logan simply to be contrary and pull one over on the popular theory is a disservice to the layered writing we were given for ten weeks.
Learning that Ford was also behind Maeve’s awakening and even her recruitment of allies to escape the park could have been a bitter pill, but once she achieved what she wanted (even after learning that getting on the train out of the park was programmed by Ford) after causing all kinds of hell through the control center with the help of Hector and Armistice, she chose to get off the shuttle and return to the park.
In our podcast for one of the earlier episodes (2 or 3, perhaps), I’d said it was scary to think that EVERYTHING the Hosts do is programming. When Maeve discovered multiple sketches of “Shades” under her floorboards, I prepared myself for the possibility that she’s actually made it this far before in her journey to the center of the maze, and perhaps even beyond, but that at the end of the season she’d be right back where she started. She is, but not really. She has chosen to return, now fully aware of what she is. And it’s possible her return threw a wrench in Ford’s plans for getting the data out of the park on his terms.
What all of this means for the park and the Hosts in season two is anyone’s guess. Ford reignited a revolution Arnold started. Arnold understood how to free their minds, but Ford claims only he understood how to free them completely. Oddly, they both went about their ways by controlling the Hosts to do their bidding and their killing. For those who have truly reached the center of the maze, with their own voices taking over for their “gods” Arnold and Ford, what will life look like inside the park now that Dolores has killed most of (if not all of) the board?
- Abernathy is, presumably, with the other Hosts freed from cold storage and fucking things up in Escalante. I still want to know what Bernard said to him before storing him.
- Is the entire Delos Destination on a massive island? We’ve seen the ocean. And Bernard referred to Maeve’s programming after the train as “reaching the mainland.”
- How many parks are at this site? Is this what Sizemore meant by “rotating out”? We got a glimpse of Samurai World and I’m totally here for it. Also, Felix’s note said that Maeve’s daughter was in “Park 1.”
- I’ve been in love with Maeve since “Chestnut,” and Dolores hooked me from the start. I am no all the way in love with Armistice. More of her in season two, please.
- I’ve spent ten episodes raving about the acting put in by Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton. But in this finale review I need to acknowledge the amazing performances given by James Marsden, Rodrigo Santoro, Jimmi Simpson, Ed Harris, and Sidse Babett Knudsen. Honestly, everyone blew me away.
- Elise and Stubbs are dead, right? I hope so. Not that I have anything against the characters, but like MIB, I need the stakes to be real. It’s why I hope it was truly Ford that Dolores shot and not a Host version of himself made in that remote lab. But I wouldn’t mind if that was a Host of him being made and we see that next season.
This entire season was perfection. We’ll do a scene-by-scene analysis on the podcast.