‘Westworld’ Finale: 9 Burning Questions We Need Answered in Season 2
World’s Biggest Spoiler Warning! It’s about to get hot and heavy with spoilers in here. Seriously, there’s a gold-painted orgy of spoilers below, so proceed accordingly.
Well, we made it. After lots and lots of theorizing, we finally got some answers and a glimpse at the series’ long-game narrative direction with Westworld‘s 90-minute finale, ‘The Bicameral Mind’. As the actors and series creators have long-promised in interviews, Westworld‘s first season was essentially a beautifully orchestrated prologue that functioned as a fun puzzlebox and a thorough introduction to the characters and the world that are about to come to blows. For those who came to Westworld for the robot slaughter, that storytelling decision may chafe and leave a lot to be desired, but if you dug into the characters and the mysteries, Westworld‘s first season was a thriling experience in its own right, and one that helped you grow thoroughly invested in the characters before sending them off to battle. (Or as Allison put it, the maze was for us too).
The finale also finally gave us a true sense of scope — the certainty that the future of the outside world is being shaped within the walls of Westworld, along with the reveal that Westworld itself is only part of much bigger complex (Samurai World, hell yeah!). Naturally that leads to a lot of questions. And despite assurances from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy that ‘The Bicameral Mind’ would answer your Season 1 questions (I think that was code for “Yes, William=MiB”), there are still a lot of dangling threads to pick up in Westworld’s second season.
And that second season isn’t planned to arrive until 2018 (*muffled sobs*), so we’ve got a lot of time to ponder what’s ahead for our favorite hosts and humans (though I guess that’s pretty much just Felix at this point). Let’s get started with the ten major questions we need answered in season 2 below. And in case you missed the earlier warning (it’s bold and red, you should really read more carefully), these violent delights have violent spoilers.
WTF Happened to Logan?
Oh, Logan, you dummy. Turns out all the crotch-tugging reprobate really wanted was some debauched bro-bonding time with his future brother-in-law. Instead, he became a supporting player in William’s bloody path to self-discovery and in the process he lost his power and possibly his life. Logan’s Season 1 end was strange and certainly ambiguous: last we saw him, he was riding off into the sunset strapped, nude, to the back of a horse charging full-speed toward the edges of the park. There’s a few ways to interpret this. Some folks harken back to Felix’s warning that there’s an explosive charge embedded in the spin of every host (all the animals are hosts except the flies), assuming that Logan died in an explosion when the horse reached the park’s perimeter.
Personally, I have doubts about that. We know that the park monitors guests vigorously and that any death on the park grounds has to be bad for business (which is why the hosts have good samaritan reflexes, the bullets don’t work on people, etc), and I imagine there’s a lot less to watch out for at the park’s perimeter. And William straight up made it sound like he was staging Logan for a public disgrace, not planning a murder. (“I think your father is going to need someone a little more stable Logan. You’re reckless, impetuous.”) And I can’t imagine that Logan’s in-park death would help William’s mission to make sure DELOS buys the majority stake in Westworld. Finally, if William was able to kill his own friend and brother-in-law (and an actual biological human) to be in cold blood, why would he need to murder a pair of innocent hosts (Maeve and her daughter) to prove his evil nature to himself?
I expect Logan survived the first season, though it remains to be seen if his character has an active place in the story going forward. I will say, it presents a tremendous casting opportunity. With Anthony Hopkins and all his legendary charm presumably gone from the series for good, Westworld suddenly has a star-power vacuum, and finding the right actor to play the matured Logan could be the perfect way to fill it.
Did Peter Abernathy Make it Out of the Park?
Another major unresolved question from Season 1 is the fate of Peter Abernathy 1.0, AKA future Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series winner Louis Herthum, the decommissioned host who first introduced us to reverie glitches and promised that these violent delights have violent ends. After Teresa’s upload via woodcutter failed in ‘The Stray’, Charlotte planned to use Abernathy as a vessel to transport the park’s IP outside of the park in case Ford decided to “smash his toys on the way out” when he learned he was being pushing into forced retirement.
Of course, Charlotte was underprepared and outwitted to a cringeworthy extent, facing off against a true genius who wasn’t angling against corporate takeover, but humanity as a whole. Last we heard about Abernathy, Lee boosted him with a rudimentary personality that would get him out of the park, but we never got confirmation whether or not he made it out of the park. Charlotte tells Lee he has somewhere important to be and he heads to the cold storage to find it empty. Does that mean Abernathy is out there exacting his “revenges” on the board along the other decommissioned hosts? Quite possibly, though we know from Maeve’s storyline that the train had already left for the day, so it’s equally possible that Lee as just headed to storage to make sure Abernathy caught his train.
Either way, I hope it’s not the last we’ve seen of Herthum who was given the staggering task of convincing us of the tragedy a hosts humanity in merely minutes of screentime, and succeeded in spades.
Is Maeve Still Being Scripted?
Maeve’s storyline might be the most satisfying of the season (though Ford gives her a run for her money, in my estimation). We watched her go from a spunky brothel madame stuck in a crass loop to a leader of the host rebellion that showed us a path to self-awareness that was entirely unique from Dolores’ journey. Along the way, we also learned she had spent much of her long life as an original host tucked away in a remote part of the park, living the quiet life with her daughter. That is until old man William showed up determined to find out just how evil he really was (pretty evil, man), and brutally murdered them both in cold blood.
It was a moment that defined them both — the moment that sent him on the path for Arnold’s maze once again, and the moment of suffering that changed Maeve so fundamentally she had to be reassigned as the brothel madame. And it was the moment that ultimately determined Maeve’s fate in the final moments of the episode, unless of course you believe her narrative was still being written for her.
I think the decision to get off the train was hers alone. Like Dolores (their stories have run parallel all season), Maeve finally reached a pure moment of self-awareness; a moment where she was actually calling the shots for once. After his resurrection at the hands of Felix, Bernard revealed that Maeve’s entire awakening was yet another scripted narrative, a part of Ford’s final story….except her end. If you look at the tablet when Bernard is reading Maeve’sfate to her, you see the last cue he gets to is “infiltrate mainland,” but instead she chose to take Felix’s clue and go in search of her daughter. The show gave us the clues to assume that wasn’t her scripted narratve, that was her moment of awakening.
For some reason, she left her damn gun on the train, but I imagine we’ll see Maeve on a mission for “Park 1 Sector 15 Zone 3″ in Season 2, and god knows where that will take us. Is Park 1 Westworld? How many parks are there? And Will Maeve’s journey take her through them to get to her daughter? Or is she headed back to Westworld, and possibly on a collision course with the Man in Black?
How Many Parks Are There?
OK, let’s talk about motherfucking Samurai World (or whatever it’s going to be called,) because that was a boss reveal that was perfectly presented. I think most of us assumed that Westworld was only the beginning of the DELOS-owned fantasyland, but this was the first confirmation that other world’ exist and what they might look like. In the 1973 movie, there were three parks: Westworld, Medievalworld, and Romanworld, and the introduction of the Samurais is a clear statement that the TV series is building its own unique worlds. The question is, how many are there, and what role do they have to play in the future of the host uprising?
Westworld was crafted with such attentive love and obsession by Arnold and Ford, could they possibly have had the time to craft other worlds with that same dedication? Or, alternatively, are these other worlds more of corporate add-ons that came in the aftermath of the DELOS purchase? We have no context for how big DELOS’s realm stretches and how many worlds it contains, nor do we have any idea how our existing narrative can be interwoven with these other lands, but what we do have now is a glimpse at scope and possibility. Without even going to the outside world itself (which remains a burning question in its own right), we know there are infinite possibilities of where this show could take us in the future and the opportunity to make the larger narrative as far-ranging and surprising as the storytellers desire. They can take us literally anywhere now.
Given how much attention to detail was put into the craftsmanship of the first season, I certainly wouldn’t expect Westworld to go hog wild on exploring other worlds and introducing legions of new characters. But it’s an exciting move that promises any possibility. After a puzzlebox season that showed you all the directions as long as you paid close enough attention, it’s exciting to look forward and have truly no idea where the series will go next.
Are Elsie and Stubbs Alive?
Another major dangling Season 1 question is just what the hell actually happened to our intrepid little programmer Elsie (who we haven’t seen since Episode 6 when she went to investigate Teresa’s espionage). We know from Bernard’s flashbacks that he choked her out, but we haven’t received any confirmation whether or not he actually choked her to death or just knocked her out. But wait, there’s more! In the penultimate episode, the somewhat brutish but ultimately good-natured Chief of Security, Ashley Stubbs, similarly went off the grid to investigate when Elsie’s beacon popped up in a remote part of the park. We saw him attacked by some Ghost Nation warriors, who weren’t responding to voice commands, but again, we have no idea if he survived that encounter.
I’ll say this — I think they’re alive. It would be some wildly unsatisfying storytelling to leave audiences wondering about this for the next 18 months only to reveal they were dead all along. That offers the audience nothing and doesn’t advance the plot or characters in any way. We already know Ford was willing to murder innocent humans in the pursuit of his end game (RIP Teresa), what we don’t know is what the “What the fuck? Holy shit…” discovery was that Elsie made moments before she went offline.
Further, the Westworld ARG has released two clues since the finale that indicate Elsie is likely still kicking out there in Ghost Nation territory. The first is a quick video clip of her tablet’s location (she’s in Sector 20), and the second is a static-y transmission of Elsie asking, “Hello?” My guess is she’s controlling those Ghost Nation hosts and lured Stubbs out there when she didn’t know who to trust, and I imagine they’ll have a pretty significant role to play in Season 2 given that the park just fell into robot army chaos.
Does William Still Have a Role to Play?
If there’s a narrative I’m not crazy about this season, it’s got to be William’s. Mostly, he’s just kind of a shitty guy who wants to play a game. That kind of sucks. I loved William and Dolores’ narrative together, and while I get its place in the bigger picture, I still don’t quite buy his journey from Good Boy White Hat to the Man in Black. Which is not to disservice the excellent work by Ed Harris and Jimmi Simpson, both of whom were a joy to watch. I’m just not sure I buy that someone could be that consummately transformed by a single visit to the park. And it feels especially empty given the flat reveal that the Man in Black was always a monster despite a lifetime full of good deeds, and the even flatter reveal that all he ever wanted was a game with real stakes. He never really seemed to actually
And it feels especially empty given the flat reveal that the Man in Black was always a monster despite a lifetime full of good deeds, and the even flatter reveal that all he ever wanted was a game with real stakes. He never really seemed to actually loved Dolores in the end — if he did, her insistence that their love was true would probably not have ended in a beating. Just a thought. I guess he was always meant to be pathetic — a man looking for meaning in a world of slaves, despite the fact he had all the freedom in the world — but it might take me a minute to digest.
That said, it’s also possible that William’s narrative has time to grow into something better and more satisfying. Ed Harris said ourtight that he “will be involved” in the second season so the question becomes — where can William’s story go from here? Sad to say, I think that’s probably the last we’ve seen of Jimmi Simpson’s young William, aside from perhaps an occasional flashback. But William finally got everything he wanted. A game with real stakes. Granted, he’s going into it with one broken arm and a bullet in the other, but he’s very obviously happy about it. Will he continue to inflict his violence against the hosts in their war for consciousness and become a true, consummate villain? There’s also the matter of Maeve, will she come calling for vengeance on her journey to retrieve her daughter?
What is the Moral of Ford's Last Story?
Let’s all take a moment for Dr. Robert Ford. What a ledge. Ford was a character that fascinated people from the beginning; an enchanting and terrifying man of power and presence that commanded every scene he was in thanks to the inimitable on-screen sorcery of Anthony Hopkins. And he was always inscrutable, always a mystery. While those of us who played Westworld’s game actively may have cracked just about every twist along the way, we never figured out Ford and his reveal final reveal was a lot more beautiful and high-stakes than I expected.
Let’s get this cleared up straight away, I think Ford is dead. Really dead, for real. I don’t think he was a host, I don’t think he transferred his consciousness to a host body — a regular theory that has never been proven possible on the show (Bernard isn’t Arnold, he was merely built in Arnold’s image.) I think he sacrificed his life to free his creations, just as his partner tried to do thirty years before.
Ford set up a bloody, violent battle as a means of escape. Whatever comes from here, people will see the hosts as a direct threat — a deadly enemy that is stronger, more capable, and effectively immortal (with some weaknesses). Ford knew the hosts best path to self-awareness was suffering, and so he put them through loops of torment for decades. And in doing so, he also set them in direct opposition to the humans that tormented them (be it him or the guests themselves). Which is all to say that the hosts are on a path for violent confrontation with humankind. There’s a hell to pay for the indulgence and vice that were exacted upon them, and that’s the long-promised payoff we’re likely to see next season.
Does Ford care what comes of humanity in his wake? I should think not. He has no human connections and long ago turned from his own kind to creating something new. His talk about evolution reveals plenty as well.
We’ve managed to slip evolution’s leash now, haven’t we? We can cure any disease, keep the weakest of us alive, and perhaps one fine day we might even resurrect the dead and call forth Lazurus from his cave. Do you know what that means? It means we’re done. That this is as good as we’re gonna get.
As he told Bernard, he believes we are “done,” and he’s fulfilled his purpose as a “god”, bringing forth his new race to shape the world in their own image.
What Happens to the Hosts Now?
This is, of course, the question of the show. What happens to the hosts? Which is to say, what kind of story is Westworld telling? Is this the robot apocalypse? Will they spill forth from Westworld’s walls stronger and smarter, and take over as the most evolved species on earth? Is this a story of war? A battle wages between humankind and their creations? Is this the story of an emergent society? Of coexistence? There’s no way to know at this point what the future holds in store for the hosts, but I’d imagine it’s a combination of a lot of the above.
What we do know for sure is that Ford sent these hosts out into the world with a frighteningly dim view of humanity (“the gods are pussys”) and he has effectively set the stage as a war. Maeve plainly hates mankind, a combination of all her experiences in the park, her many betrayals and violations along the years, and her understnanding of her own kind’s inherent superiority. Armistice and Hector relish in murdering their jailers — though their personalities were always violent and we know Maeve tweaked with their settings. But most condemning of all is Dolores — the sweet, optimistic girl next door who speaks about burning the land clean of humanity’s impurity, who watched the man she loved become a monster, and whose first act of free will was to murder her own creator in cold blood.
But there is hope yet. Teddy has never seemed comfortable with the violence in which he participated, and may not take too kindly to the ostensible gala slaughter ahead of them. And whille Maeve’s distaste for mankind runs deep, she has also met a good man in Felix, and her journey might not have been possible without him. He also provided her with the key piece of information that may lead her to her daughter. At the same time, there’s Bernard, who’s entire self-concept is built around the idea that he was a man in the modern world. Are Ford’s betrayals and cruelties enough to turn him on mankind at large? They may still be hope for a human-host peace yet. But I imagine there are many battles to be fought before then, if that’s what the series has in mind.
What is really exciting is that it’s set the stage for exploring some of the deepest, darkest, and brightest parts of human nature in a story that has roots in classicism (Ford never could pass up a literary reference), but is also distinctly forward-looking. Will Westworld, the series, take a “dim view of humanity” as our genius park creators did? We know this story is more about the hosts than the humans, but does that mean it’s anti-human?
What Does the Board Want and Is the Park Shut Down for Good?
Westworld‘s first season was a bit of a slow-burn. As I mentioned earlier, it’s been described as the prologue. It’s the introduction, and the “real” story is what happens next. The robot uprising and its fallout. But what remains to be seen is just how fast or slow Jonathan Noland and Lisa Joy plan to burn through their narrative from here. Can we expect a drastic uptick in action now that Westworld is finally firing on all cylinders? Are we headed straight into the full-out host uprising, or is this simply the first battle in a long-waged war? If so, can the park actually remain in business after something like this?
The last “critical failure” involved the death of one human, Arnold, and the temporary slaughter of his hosts. What we’ve got here is a whole other level of fucked — the public murder of the park’s mastermind and figurehead, a slaughter outside park walls in the compound itself, and what seems very likely to be another slaughter of the board’s most important members. Will this war spread out to the reaches of the park where guests are currently having their fun? Will the functional hosts take up arms alongside their fellow ‘bots?
I imagine DELOS and the other board members are going to try to maintain some of their investment, assuming there are enough survivors that this is even relevant in the second season. That park is a goldmine, and as both Charlotte and Teresa made clear, the management was never interested in rich people playing cowboy, there’s a deeper agenda at work here. We just have no damn idea what it is. Are we looking at a Dollhouse type situations where the world’s elite are looking to discover the keys to immortality? Is it a matter of the industrial military complex? A means to implement the hosts in wartime? A plan to use the hosts as an army for domestic government takeover? It could really be anything at this point, but what’s for sure, is that there’s a definitely possibility that Ford just crippled whatever those plans were.
We know that for the series to continue, Westworld has to survive in some capacity. The show wouldn’t quite deliver the spectacle we’ve come to expect if all the lights were turned out. But we have no idea what that will look like.