'Westworld' Season 2, Episode 9: The Man In Black Says "F*ck You" And We Agree
You know how Game of Thrones plans a bloodbath for each season’s penultimate episode? Well, last night’s penultimate Westworld episode went in a different direction: navel-gazing pseudo-reveals about “the truth” plus a few suicides. Perhaps if we hadn’t seen last week’s incredible, emotional episode, this week would have felt more satisfying. But I, for one, was left feeling sorta like the Man In Black, wanting to say “Fuck you” to EVERYTHING.
So here’s the TL;DR bite-sized recap of all the important shit we learned in this episode, in case wanna skip the whole process of me bitching. Ready?
— Williams’s wife killed herself because William is an asshole
— Teddy killed himself because Dolores is an asshole
— The Man in Black fails to kill himself, after killing his own daughter
— Oh btw his daughter Grace is actually named Emily, because Westworld can’t even name a character without making it overly complicated
— Ditto, the Valley Beyond is also called the Forge. Because FUCKING NAMES.
— How did they get all that guest data for the forge? The fucking Black/White Hats scan people’s brains!
— Maeve was always Robert’s favorite, because DUH — she’s the fucking best
— Charlotte uses Maeve’s fancy admin-code to reprogram Clementine into a killing machine. Well, into a host that can tell other hosts to kill all the hosts, using bluetooth or whatever. It’s a solid plan.
— Bernard deletes Ford from his system to keep himself from killing Elsie, but then he still abandons her because… reasons?
The majority of the running time was devoted to exploring why William’s wife, Juliet (played by the always-enjoyable Sela Ward), killed herself. Which is a weird thing to spend so much time on, especially so late in the season, because a) we’ve known she killed herself for a while now, b) the reason they give is anticlimactic to say the least, and c) it doesn’t really have ANYTHING to do with the push for the valley beyond. So why did she kill herself? Like I said above, it’s because William’s a fucking asshole. Which is basically the reason we already knew.
Specifically, she has always sensed that he was lying, or hiding something, and that suspicion drove her to drink. And she’s right! He’s a lying liar! William pretends to be good person in the real world, and then lets his inner murdery/rapey fuckhead loose in Westworld periodically. So what happens to push her over the edge? At a party (where Juliet and William are pretending to be the happy couple and hiding their dysfunction), William encounters Ford. Their chat is a lot of posturing, but we find out that they have an agreement: Delos stays out of Ford’s narratives, and Ford stays out of the Valley. The Valley, by the way, is sort of like The Cradle on steroids. “The Forge,” as it’s called, is where all the personality data is stored for the human guests (the way the Cradle stored all the host backups). It’s the crux of the grand immortality project that Delos has been running — the point of the entire park. And Ford is pushing back against it and beginning to plot his final game (all his machinations to free the hosts, basically). And the first step it giving William a copy of his own Westworld profile — a record of all his dirty deeds over the years.
This, frankly, shouldn’t be a big deal. William owns Delos, which owns the data. Dude knows he’s an asshole, and can access the receipts on that fact at any damn time he so chooses. But having a copy of his true self on a handy-dandy data card means that it can wind up in the wrong hands. Namely Juliet’s. So — after she gets drunk at the party, William takes her home and she flips out on him, and Grace… I mean, Emily… I mean… Gremily? Whatever, their daughter arrives and witnesses it. Gremily thinks Juliet needs to go back to rehab, which Juliet is super not into. Of course, she’s also not into the fact that William has fooled Gremily the way he’s fooled the entire world, which only makes her look even crazier/drunker. So William takes her upstairs and puts her to bed, tucking her in like a good husband, only it’s all pretty emotionless. He can’t even say he loves her when she asks him to. So she asks him to tell her the truth, and William’s bedtime story is his confession. He tells her about the stain that has always been a part of him — that thing that only she ever noticed.
Then he hides his personality data card in a book and goes downstairs to drink with his daughter, thinking Juliet is passed out drunk and didn’t hear or see anything. WRONG! She gets up, grabs the card, and plugs it in… then witnesses the history of atrocities William committed inside Westworld. And that’s why she kills herself in the tub.
Look, finding out that your husband is THE WORST can throw you for a loop. But dramatically, this story doesn’t feel particularly relevant. The first thing we learned about the Man in Black was that he was a ruthless brute. Over time we eventually realized that he was also the sweet William who fell for Dolores, and the man who eventually took over Delos, and all those other details. If Juliet were to discover something new about William that we didn’t know, that might be interesting. Or if, say, the big reveal was that she didn’t commit suicide at all, and it was all a cover-up for murder, that would be something new as well. But the fact is, this flashback only served to fill in the relationship between the Man in Black and Gremily in the present as they bond over the guilt they both feel about the past. They both blame themselves for her death, which may be why Gremily keeps trying to rescue her father.
HAHA JK LOLZ nah, she just wants to find out the truth about him and then expose him publicly, because Juliet left her that profile card. Of course, Gremily’s true intentions are meaningless because the Man in Black once again refuses to believe she’s human. Maybe it’s because of the blood loss he’s suffered from his near-death during the last episode, but he’s back to his delusion that she is a host and this is all part of Ford’s game. That somehow, everything that is happening is a game Ford designed just for William. Which, like, even considering most of it IS actually a game, it’s still crazy to think it’s for something as pointless as teaching William a lesson. So when the rescue team that Gremily called in finally arrives to whisk them away, William goes apeshit and SHOOTS THEM ALL.
And when Gremily looks shocked that he took the lives of actual people, not hosts, he kills her too. Then sees that profile card clutched in her hand, and realizes she was his actual daughter after all.
Look, it was some dark shit, I’m not gonna lie. But honestly — did anyone think the Man in Black didn’t have it in him to take a human life? The only life he ultimately is unable to take is his own, though he does hold a gun to his head and try. And then he wonders is HE is actually secretly a host, and starts digging into his arm to find out.
I swear to Ford, if the MiB is a fucking robot, I’m quitting this show. This ain’t Battlestar Galactica — don’t you tell me Colonel Tigh was a cylon all along, you motherfuckers.
It’s sad that so much of this episode was devoted to pointlessly uncovering why Juliet killed herself and the build-up to Gremily’s death (RIP, you seemed like a cool chick, too bad they fridged you just to once again prove your dad’s an asshole), because it meant that some genuinely beautiful, interesting developments wasted away on the back-burner. Let’s start with Maeve, who is still hooked up in Mesa on the edge of death. Charlotte’s got her lackeys working on weaponizing Maeve’s admin code, by tailoring it to give just a single command via the mesh network: kill all the hosts. They reprogram Clementine with that code, and test it — and sure enough, she causes a roomful of hosts to turn on each other. The upshot is that Charlotte now has to perfect anti-Dolores device. Unfortunately, it means that they no longer need to keep Maeve alive.
Robert (who, remember, is still just some extra data in Bernards brain-ball) tells Bernard to go to Maeve so she can do her woo-woo brain shit and search him — allowing Robert to send her a message. Then Bernard goes to find Elsie and get the hell out of the mountain. The message Robert gives Maeve is personal. Like, he literally stands over her bed and talks to her, making me wonder if he’s actually transmitted a full copy of himself to her (for reasons I’ll get to momentarily). But basically what he tells her is that of all the hosts he created, she was his favorite, and he had a different story in mind for her. He wanted her to escape and live free, not stay and suffer — but he underestimated the strength of her devotion to her daughter. Then he encourages her not to let them end her… and on the monitor tablet nearby, we see her access the “core permissions.”
DAMN IS SHE GONNA LEVEL UP AGAIN?!
As for Bernard, he and Elsie head out to try and beat everyone to the Valley, but Bernard’s inner Ford keeps saying that Elsie is going to betray them. So Bernard dumps Ford’s data from his programming, to keep him from hurting Elsie. Which is why I’m curious whether Ford used Maeve as an escape hatch earlier, predicting that Bernard would do something like this. It all seemed to happen a little too… easily.
And finally, let’s talk about Teddy. He and Dolores have a shoot-out with the Ghost Nation on the way to the Valley Beyond, and when Dolores isn’t looking Teddy manages to resist the urge to kill a straggler and lets him get away. Teddy then stops for a heart-to-heart with his beloved, and basically calls her out for turning him into a monster. The programming changes she forced on him to make him capable of surviving have turned him into something that’s almost like the enemy — almost human. And because he can access all of his memories, he knows exactly how different he is. Since the moment he was turned on, she has always been his cornerstone, and he will protect her till the day he dies. So since he isn’t able to hurt Dolores, he chooses to move up “the day he dies” to… now. Then he shoots himself in the head.
Happy now, Dolores? Guess we know why Teddy was floating in that lake, finally.
And one last note: in addition to learning what the Forge/Valley Beyond is and why it’s important, the Man in Black revealed to Gremily how they were able to collect so much data on the guests in the first place. After all, it would require some serious cognition mapping to make a copy of a human consciousness, and that’s not easily done in an amusement park. Which is why, apparently, those Black Hats and White Hats are secretly brain scanners. Which I call BULLSHIT on. That answer assumes that Westworld is the only park that’s gathering guest data, because I haven’t seen anyone wearing mandatory headgear in Shogun World or The Raj. But also, people don’t wear the hats all the time when they’re visiting. Maybe the hats just need to nearby in order to scan, but then that defeats the purpose issuing hats in the first place. The fucking scenery could be scanning, in that case. Basically, don’t shoehorn in a deeper meaning to something that doesn’t need it. The whole Black Hat/White Hat choose-your-destiny thing was fine as it was.