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Westworld Ep.2.10: “The Passenger” Goes Full “Matrix Revolutions”

If you were expecting a satisfying denouement to the latest Westworld that tied everything up in a neat bow then you’re still watching the wrong show. Like the end of The Matrix trilogy, Westworld has fully descended into The Rabbit Hole, showing us that it goes deeper than ever thought possible, potentially falling down forever. Is this brave, next-level TV, or is it simply ridiculous? Let’s try and figure “The Passenger” out. 

What Is Actually Going On?

For a show that was making such strides towards simplicity in episodes such as “Kiksuya” and “Vanishing Point” — telling one man stories that helped to illuminate its world — “Westworld” bites off way more than it can chew in its season finale, packing together multiple timelines, revelations, confusing flashbacks, bait and switches and meaningless posturing into something which is almost impossible to comprehend. For something not based on a massive pre-existing book like Game of Thrones — simply a couple of movies — one wonders why the show need be so impossibly complicated. There’s something to be said for mystery-box storytelling, but Westworld seems to be trying to inflict mental pain upon any viewer simply trying to figure out the basic question of: What the hell is going on?

Firstly its worth circling back to Bernard, who is the protagonist of the show. He reaches The Forge with Dolores, a place with digital copies of all the people who have visited the park. After a brief showdown with The Man In Black — who tries to kill Dolores but ends up shooting off his own hand when the gun backfires — they go inside. This is a place where they can upload themselves into a virtual world — like in The Matrix — where the meaning of the park is explained (we’ll come back to this later). The Door is finally opened, and its a kind of secret eden which the hosts can escape to and live out their electric dreams. Bernard has enough of Dolores’ evil and shoots her in the head, before transferring host data to the HQ and flooding the Forge — i.e. the image we saw at the start of season 1.

The Passenger, Westworld

The hosts, led by Ghost Nation, make a beeline for it, joined by Meave and her posse. She has miraculously recovered (unexplained) from her comatose state, creating zombie robots to save her from captivity. Then she teams up with Lee, Hector and the others to rush to The Door. Lee (r.i.p) unnecessarily sacrifices himself (along with Hector) in a rather poignant moment to buy them time. The Delos henchmen try to stop them, yet Meave still manages to save her daughter before getting shot herself. 

Then, although its hardly clear, we are ten days in the future, with Hale and Bernard together in The Forge. Hale is looking for the data and assumes Bernard can find it — but Bernard has actually created a new Hale (yes) with Dolores’ data stored inside her. New Hale kills old Hale and escapes to the old world. We find out that the scrambled nature of Bernard’s flashbacks in previous  episodes was actually intentional as he couldn’t let anyone know what he did. He has reached a new level of consciousness it seems — and the Ford on his shoulder was actually him. Soon we skip to the real world and Dolores/Hale meets up with a new Bernard copy who wants them to work together. We will find out what in the next season (or will we?).

“The Passenger” is a lot to get through — hell, simply writing down what happened was exhausting. Told across different timelines, its nigh on impossible to figure out exactly what is happening. This is the head-scratcher to end all head-scratchers. Told with portentous seriousness throughout, season three will have to do a lot to avoid this series becoming a slog. Lost, Westworld’s closest cousin, for all its ridiculous twists and turns, was at least always thrilling and worked on a character level. Westworld seems to have no basic narrative rules — when anything can happen, it starts to descend into Matrix Revolutions territory. Still, perhaps the most important question it asks is:

Do We Have Any Free Will?

Westworld doesn’t work like normal shows in terms of investment and payoff. Thanks to the eternal cycle between human code that can be turned into host and host that can be manipulated into human, characters become ciphers — forever mutated into new and stranger forms. Everything that the show builds up doesn’t lead to a regular climax, instead being used to make an even broader point about the nature of our reality. At times this is fascinating, at others frustrating; making for a show that is heavy on philosophy but almost completely empty on meaningful character development. If we are to believe that nothing really comes from our own free will, and that we are destined to repeat our own loops forever and ever, then how can we expect our characters to make meaningful changes or improve as people? The answer seems to be that we — the humans — can’t, but perhaps the robots can.

The Forge is a library where every human can be reduced to a leather-bound book outlining their story. According to Westworld, human behaviour works via an algorithm. We are composed of only 10,247 lines of code. We see the endless patterns of James Delos as he makes the same mistakes over and over again despite running through millions of permutations. Robots though, with their ability to seemingly break out of the code assigned to them, are now the superior and more powerful beings.

The Passenger

This is biblical stuff. Humans are seen not to have any free will, while robots —created by God, i.e. Ford — take the position of angels; able to act (and brutally avenge) outside of normal parameters. This is seen by Bernard not just throwing off Ford’s influence but actually revealing that Ford was never there in the first place. By creating this new Ford for himself, he shows that he is capable of creating a new consciousness for himself — something humans, forever repeating the same mistakes over and over, cannot do.

This is particularly true of William, aka, The Man In Black, who in a Marvel-esque post credits reveal is seen to be repeating the same story over and over again in a manner reminiscent of “The Riddle of The Sphinx”. He also meets his own daughter, who has been running this test. Its safe to assume that this isn’t a direct conclusion to the episode, but rather set some time in the future where he has been doing this over and over again. Does this mean that we’ve been watching robot-William this whole time? The result is a show that may be interesting to ponder but really fatiguing to watch. Perhaps they will return to the basics of storytelling next time!

Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

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