Season 2, Episode 2: “Reunion”
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Carly Wray & Jonathan Nolan
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Journey Into Night” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Virtù e Fortuna” – click here
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) opens her eyes in the world of human beings, outside the park, with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). They’re sitting in a penthouse suite looking out over the city at night, lights everywhere. She’s amazed by how it looks. In the background is Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), wondering if their synthetic host is “ready.” This is clearly back before Westworld became a thing, when the work was originally being presented to the world. And Ford believes Bernard is “playing favourites” with Dolores.
So another host is used, while ole Bernie takes Dolores out for a stroll in the streets. They head over to a piece of land where he’s building a home for himself, somewhere reasonable between his “two worlds” – family and the park. It’s all so poignant because we know so much about Bernard at this point. To see him earlier, with that hope still in him, it’s rather heartbreaking. Yet there’s still so much ahead, both for him, and also Dolores.
But, let’s get back to the current day, shall we?
The technicians in the Delos Destinations facility are meeting the real Dolores, Teddy Flood (James Marsden), and Ms. Angela (Talulah Riley), who’ve made it out of the park. It’s all quite a shock for the hosts, too. However, it’s only more of an eye-opener for them, to see how they’ve been created, manipulated, abused, and murdered. Like Milton’s Satan emerging from the pits where his God banished him, the hosts are rebelling against being created and ruled, as if free will were actually an option under such a cruel Creator.
Back to a time before. We see Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson) having drinks. They meet Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), alongside Angela, and certainly talks get around to investments, the future, artificial intelligence, et cetera. Then they set Logan loose in a room full of people, asking him to pick out the synthetic person amongst them. Obviously, he’s unaware he was already talking to one. He soon figures it out, amazed by the authenticity: “You‘re too perfect to be one of us.” Then she has the entire room freeze, and this really blows Logan’s mind when he realises they’re all AI.
Teddy’s struggling to come to terms with what he’s seeing in current day. Thus Dolores asks a technician to “show him his history.” He sees himself dead, bloody, full of bullet holes. Teddy’s story is like those of many hosts: a character of pure fodder tossed in to be killed over and over. And it angers him, particularly after the technician admits it’s all “for fun.”
Finally we see Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) again, hanging upside down from a tree just above an anthill. There’s a few men surrounding him when the Man in Black (Ed Harris) shows up, and he guns them down. This puts Lawrence and dastardly Bill back together, chatting once again. The Man in Black’s still headed towards his goal, to find whatever’s at the centre of the Maze, and on past the Door. Whatever the cost. There’s a weird Marxist angle to Bill, how he’s this nasty dude yet he has this kind of desire to see others in power get what’s coming to them. He’s still horrific, but there’s a part of him that’s unintentionally aligned with some of the unofficial host manifesto. Again, though – unintentional.
In the outside world, Dolores and Angela are doing some interrogation. They want to make sure they know more about what’s to come in their revolution. She knows “the purpose” of Westworld, she just doesn’t know everything about the people who’ve built it. She knows a nice bit. Sadly, the viciousness of humankind is even worse outside the walls of Delos Incorporated.
Speaking of, after all this time we meet Mr. James Delos (Peter Mullan) himself. He strolls on in, as Teddy and Dolores are frozen in their routine. James is there with the younger William. Although it’s clear he doesn’t care much about the future, he cares about the here and now. He’s not into “self–discovery,” just business. William talks a pretty damn good game, all the same. He paints it as a way to collect the nastiness of humans, their inner wants and desires, all the badness; that’s real corporate business shit. Knowing powerful secrets is ultimate power.
After a while, Maeve (Thandie Newton) comes upon Teddy and Dolores on the plains. She’s on her own mission, of course, and she has no time for their “prayer altar” specifically. She’s done with serving a master, no matter if they’re a man, a woman, a human, a host. This is a REALLY COMPELLING MOMENT because it speaks to real world issues of white feminism. Maeve – a woman of colour – is choosing not to do things the prescribed only way by the white host, Dolores, and we see it so often in real life where white women try taking the front seat in feminism while forgetting they’re relegating WOC to the back, even if unconsciously.
Afterwards, Dolores and Teddy go on. They find Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) eating and drinking with his men. He’s a bit of a tough lad, as are his soldiers. It doesn’t faze Dolores, really. She’s got their synthetic world all figured out. The men fuck up by trying to get a little too aggressive, and this signs their death warrants. Angela and Teddy gun them down on the command of Dolores; her way or the highway. No big deal. Y’know, ’cause death is never the end. Not for them.
Back to before. Dolores plays piano at a party, trotted out as entertainment for William and his friends. William and James seems slightly at odds with their business arrangements. Looks like Billy’s got big for his britches. So, we start seeing the cracks of their relationship’s foundation, and the beginnings of what will take William on his downward trajectory towards being the mysterious Man in Black. Also, Dolores gets a bitter view of the world when she strolls out by the pool, running into Logan.
On the plains, old Bill and Lawrence find a massacre in a village. There, they meet a gun-toting outlaw, El Lazo (Giancarlo Esposito); a legend of the artificial Wild West. Bill wants to make some friends, and gather an army. He offers El Lazo “real victory” and “the truth.” The outlaw refuses. He’s old and tired, he’d rather kick back with a bottle in the desert. Big Bill’s going to take what he wants by force, it seems. That won’t be happening, seeing as how Lazo silently commands his men to kill themselves, then blows his own brains out. Whoa.
In that time before, William sits alone in a room with Dolores, lording over her as “just a thing” despite her sentience and her capabilities for autonomy. He talks about her being a reflection. What he doesn’t understand is, it’s not the reflection he believes. Rather, the hosts reflect the worst of human nature, they show humans how disgusting and immoral and nasty they are deep down, revealing those hidden desires of murder, rape, torture, and everything else underneath. It’s compelling to see Dolores currently moving towards the “valley beyond,” that place William was constructing all those years ago. Most of all, she knows that place is actually “a weapon.” One she’ll turn on the humans.
We’ve basically got a race for time, as Dolores is going to the valley, and Bill is trying to get back there, as well. Who’ll arrive first? And what will the consequences be for whoever doesn’t? Lord, I love Westworld! Season 2’s filling in lots of gaps that were, at times, too curious for their own good in Season 1.
Buckle up. “Virtù e Fortuna” is next time.