As usual, Westworld was amazing this week. And also as usual, we have more questions than answers. This first post of many will simply provide a summary to iron out and distinguish one of the different timelines and the time jumps that take place, followed later by my thoughts on symbolism and predictions. On a side note, I do feel slightly unfulfilled not knowing more about the Bernard storyline yet!
The episode opens with Arnold (definitely him) bringing Dolores online in a modern apartment overlooking a city skyline. This is a past timeline that begins pre-park. She marvels at the lights outside, and as she sits awestruck Arnold briefly argues with a young Ford in the background. Arnold argues that she is not ready and to “go with the other girl.” He then takes Dolores for a walk outside, and in the background one can note an Asian language written on a building. Arnold then shows Dolores his future home under construction, a home to which he hopes to bring his wife and son so that he can keep “his two worlds within reach of one another.” This of course refers to having his family on the mainland while he works at the park(s) on a nearby island and commutes home when he can. At the end of their tour of the home, Dolores repeats her earlier statement about the city, “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” This glitch of course reiterates Arnold’s point that Dolores is not quite finished or developed in terms of her programming or personality.
The next scene with the pre-park timeline features Logan Delos at a fancy bar. A Native American man and a stunning woman we know to be the host Angela introduce themselves to Logan as being from the Argos Initiative. Logan comments that he’s glad to get names knowing that what they do is so cloak and dagger. Angela comments that everyone is rushing to build a virtual world but they offer something more tangible. They then bring Logan to a fancy private suite packed full of people for a private demonstration of their technology, inviting him to pick out the robot host from among the crowd. He wanders among them until realizing that Angela is in fact a host, and is struck that he was duped by her realistic beauty. He is further stunned when everyone in the room freezes and he realizes he was surrounded by hosts the entire time, they’re that good. He is definitely impressed but notes Angela will have to prove how real she is, and we later see her dressing after some adult entertainment with the young Delos. Clearly, the whole point of this venture was to impress Logan and woo him as an investor in Westworld.
Fast forward a bit and we find ourselves at an all too familiar scene: it is a busy morning in Sweet Water and Dolores drops a can in the road. Everyone freezes and a helicopter flies overhead. Young William and Delos Sr. stroll through the street, and while the elder Delos admits Dolores is pretty he bluntly asserts he is interested in reality, not investing in fantasy. These events are occurring after William and Logan’s foray into the park from season one, so it is with a new sense of confidence that he speaks to his father-in-law. He agrees that the park is a fantasy, but the one real thing is the guests. Delos wastes half of its marketing budget figuring out what people want. Why not observe and record them (covertly) to find out their deepest and darkest desires? After all, at the park is the only place in the world where we see people for who they really are. Delos Sr. is intrigued, noting no man alive dares to speak to him as William has, but respecting that boldness, he is willing to listen.
Apparently the gambit investing in Westworld has paid off as we soon see a retirement party for Delos Sr. Dolores is there playing piano, and William’s wife eyes her suspiciously as she calls her daughter away, perhaps fearing what a robot might do to a child. Delos Sr. tells William that it doesn’t feel like a retirement party, but rather a coronation (for William). William does seem somewhat sincere in saying it doesn’t benefit him to see his father-in-law retire, the relationship as it is had been beneficial, but a few coughs from Delos and his comment that “some of us can afford to have more patience than others” leads us to believe his health is declining and he cannot continue to lead his empire. Later, Dolores walks away from the main party to stare at the city skyline in the distance, stumbling upon Logan as he injects himself with drugs. He does remember her from William’s mad quest to relocate her. He comments that the party is really “fools fiddling while the whole species burns” and that “the funniest part is they lit the match”.
The timeline of the past concludes with William, presumably now a major shareholder and corporate director of both Delos and Westworld, having a monologue with a naked Dolores in a lab. He states that, “You really are just a thing” and that he can’t believe he fell in love with her. He does note that she is a reflection, meaning that how a person acts with a host, what they do to them, reflects the person’s true nature. He then takes her to a valley under construction and strangely uses the same phrase she did earlier to describe it. “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”
So, in summary, this portion of the episode dealt with bits and pieces of the quest to bring the hosts from an intriguing bit of risky new technology to the level of a full fledged park, and beyond. We learned that some hosts have in fact been to the “real” world, though I am amazed that this was allowed or even dared considering the danger if one escaped and malfunctioned, or was captured and torn apart to steal its technology. We also see William’s rise to power. Stay tuned for the next piece of the timeline!