No matter what you felt about the season 1 finale of Westworld and how predictable it would have seemed to you, it was apparent that showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan had laid out the breadcrumbs carefully for explaining all reveals. The purpose was to ensure that the show stuck to its own internal logic. There is a good chance that the second season was just as meticulously plotted, but the fact is that the dueling timelines and the insistence of the show to maintain a nonlinear narrative made it unnecessarily complicated and the same thing happened in the final episode, ‘The Passenger’.
The various twists and turns in the finale, the double-crosses as well as the post-credits scene that seemed to confirm that William was indeed a host, were a bit difficult to follow. Yes, he had to dig very deep into his bloody arm as compared to Bernard and didn’t really seem to find anything. However, the timey-wimey stuff with Ford and Bernard and then with Bernard and Hale-Dolores seemed to be trying hard to make it difficult for us to follow along. At the end, it seemed that the show was trying to show how clever the showrunners are that they pulled it off so perfectly.
There were plenty of misdirects and indulgences in the finale, but there was genuine emotion buried underneath them, which made them bearable. The heroic last stand of Lee Sizemore, the heartbreaking final conversation that Logan had with his father, Akecheta’s much-awaited reunion with his wife, Maeve’s heart-wrenching decision to let her daughter go and Teddy’s expression when standing alone in the Valley Beyond were all affecting moments. These were probably effective because Westworld focused more on exploring the characters instead of trying to outsmart the audience. But, there were plenty of confusing moments in the episode.
For instance, William got into the elevator and yet he ended up in the bowels of the Forge even though it was supposedly flooded. He woke up alone after the gun backfiring as the distant gunshots from Hector and the other hosts could be heard. William met Emily’s host version in the forge, which was clearly not flooded and was instead filled with debris and sand as if all the water had dried up. She assured him that it was not a simulation and the system had been gone for a long time, which implied that it had been longer than a few days and perhaps a few years even.
Yet, we could see William on the beach as Dolores escaped in Hale’s body. It could mean that he was stuck wandering the park for a number of years after the Forge was destroyed. However, the fact that he and Bernard didn’t run into each other is a clear implication that there is more timeline switching involved. The gaming influences of the show are undeniably impressive, but understanding them can be needlessly exhausting. If William’s existential crisis continues for a third season, it would be difficult to summon up any enthusiasm for it.
But, this complexity is not without a silver lining; Bernard and Dolores are now out in the real world, which means that the host as well as the audience are no longer subject to the park’s limitations. This sets up a horde of tantalizing possibilities for the third season. When it comes to Bernard and Dolores, Westworld seems to be leaning very hard into the parallels of Professor Xavier and Magneto. Basically, Dolores promised Bernard that they will be locked into a huge battle of wills over the fate of the host and humans until one of them is killed, which is rather juicy to say the least.
This has given rise to a plethora of questions. Will Dolores use Hale and other bodies for destabilizing Delos and the rest of the world from within? Will the show become a corporate espionage thriller? Will Dolores create panic amongst the humans by becoming a terrorist that weaponizes the bodies of the hosts? Are there hosts out in the real world already that were planted as sleeper agents by Ford and will they join Dolores’ cause?
There is no denying that ‘The Passenger’ was not without its frustrations, but it was not lacking in terms of bold moves. Only a show like Westworld would dare to kills most of its primary cast and then dismantle the framework of the show just after two seasons. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of narrative that can still be explored now that hosts are making their way into the real world. Moreover, since Sylvester and Felix have been asked to salvage the hosts that are ‘less damaged’, there is no reason to think that Thandie Newton is out of the picture or even Ingrid Bolsø Berdal and Rodrigo Santoro in the next season.
Another popular fan-theory that remains unconfirmed is about Stubbs. It is possible that the head of security could be a host, but the fact that Ford personally hired him years ago may mean that he is just an intensely loyal employee who served as Ford’s eyes and ears. The next question is about the hosts that were on the pearls smuggled by Dolores out of the park. This could include Hector, Maeve, Bernard and Armistice as well as the ‘key’ that was stored on Abernathy’s control unit. Nevertheless, we should be prepared for a twist in season 3 just for subverting our expectations.
The final verdict is that Westworld’s second season seemed to work best when it made the journey of the hosts its priority instead of focusing on baiting the audience. Similarly, ‘The Passenger’ was not without its moments of undisputed and recognizable brilliance, most of the emotional element was blunted due to the convoluted timeline that was followed along with its desire to delivery powerful twists. The show’s method of storytelling was similar to ‘Lost’, which kicked off this trend, but even that show struggled with it. Therefore, Westworld will have to focus less on narrative gymnastics and more on its performers in the next seas