The Shogun World story comes to a close as Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) party parts ways with their storyline twins. In Westworld, the frosty relationship between the Man in Black (Ed Harris) and his daughter, Grace (Katja Herbers), is given context. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) gets to experience Teddy 2.0 (James Marsden) as they make their way to Delos’ operations to find her father. And Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has Elsie (Shannon Woodward) connect him to Delos’ server farm, the Cradle, which holds the operating code for every Host and the operations of the parks. He surmises it will allow him to discover who is actively changing the Cradle’s code to block the system coming back fully online… and boy, does he find out.
Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Westworld episode “Phase Space,” written by Carly Wray, directed by Tarik Saleh.
Bernard – with glasses – and Elsie follow the train tracks to get back into Delos via the guest welcome center. Hacker Elsie quickly determines on a system terminal that QA has been trying to regain control of the system, but the Host backup server farm (aka the Cradle) is blocking all attempts. She can’t see the source of the adaptive code, but she knows that it’s improvising to keep the techies out and to remain interfacing with every park system. Yes, that’s weird and seemingly impossible. Bernard offers to sacrifice his skull to let an older control module rack-thingy let him interface with the Cradle to find out who is inside the system. In the Sweetwater storyline, he finds Ford (Anthony Hopkins) waiting for him, playing a tune on the Mariposa piano.
Turns out, Maeve’s new "voice" did the trick in terms of wiping out that oncoming Shogun army. As the bodies rot around them, the two blood-soaked mother figures, Maeve and Akane (Rinko Kikuchi), share another moment of pain as Akane excises the heart of her fallen, adopted daughter, Sakura (Kiki Sukezane). They all then return to the Shogun Sweetwater, where Maeve demands the return of Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), Armstice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum), Felix (Leonardo Nam), and Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) from Tanaka (Masayoshi Haneda). She’s about to go all A.I. Firestarter on him, but Musashi demands a personal duel with Tanaka for the outcome that Maeve wants. She agrees because “We have the right to earn our fate, even if it’s death.” Luckily for Musashi, their big ass katana fight ends with Tanaka fated for a self-skewering death, and a beheading chaser.
Older William/Man in Black and Grace have it out around a campfire in Westworld. He initially thinks his daughter is a Host meant to deter him from his goal, but she quickly proves that she’s his actual estranged daughter. His obsession with the park has obviously created a wedge between the two, with the suicide of her mother creating a huge rift. Grace blamed him for her death, but she doesn’t anymore. However, she’s in the park to get him to come back to the real world with her because she says he doesn’t get to go out in a bullshit blaze of glory. He asks if he goes with her whether that will make them square, and she agrees. Of course, he double-crosses her and is gone in the morning back on the trail to his mystery destination.
And the reprogrammed Teddy proves to be the lean, mean, killing machine Dolores always wanted, or thought she wanted. Because this Teddy is quick to murder whimpering humans without hesitation, bark impatient orders without the hint of a smile, and Dolores seems a bit taken aback by it. Surprise! Maybe that lethal vengeance look isn’t as sexy as she thought.
Overall, the story felt like it was going places, with progressions happening for several characters. For Maeve, we get to see the tragic tale of Akane and Sakura’s storyline play out to its conclusion. Akane and Musashi, the Maeve and Hector of Shogun World, get to take hold of their fates in the wake of their tragedies and choose to stay in their park to create their own paths. Akane will stay in the world where he daughter existed, and from there, who knows. It’s sad, yet a bit hopeful depending on what happens with the parks in general.
But you have to wonder how the incredibly intelligent Maeve didn’t register that maybe their little sojourn into Shogun World was more than a little prophetic about the pursuit of her own daughter. When Maeve finally returns to Westworld and the homestead where her daughter still resides, she’s shocked to find a new Host has filled her place. The daughter who inspired Maeve to sentience has no memory of her, and all her loyalty and "love" is now programmed for another Host mommy. It’s heartbreaking, but hardly a shock.
It was a pleasure to have the scene between older William and Grace say so much in so little time. Their incredibly revealing campfire conversation provided context about their broken dynamic, their long-simmering hostility toward one another, and just how disposable people are to the Man in Black. The emotions that once guided him in his romance with Dolores were obviously transferred to the park as his all-consuming passion. His wife and daughter just could not compare.
And how about that Ford reveal? The groundwork for it was laid all season, with the young Ford appearing, as well as various Hosts hijacked to be his verbal conduits. But to see him, even in a reflection, certainly bodes well for more answers to come.
Coughlin arrives with his team from Delos in exchange for Charlotte finally securing the promised Peter Abernathy. First, must all of the security and operations people at Delos look so similar? They must hire based on how grizzled and grumpy a person is in the interview. And if their distinguishing details are going to be so standardized, at least give them name cards. I'm having trouble figuring out which Delos bastard is which.
Also, was literally bolting Abernathy to a chair necessary? We get it that humans, especially Delos employees, don’t value Host lives. To illustrate it with such over-the-top actions over and over just feeds the worst excesses of the show, with violence for violence’s sake.
Did anyone ever think Lee was going to be anything but a self-serving weasel? One Maeve “thank you” isn’t going to make his shriveled heart grow three sizes too big. But what is puzzling is why did he decide to call for backup at that point? What was his point in navigating Maeve back to her original story? Did he just want to see how it all would play out for curiosity’s sake alone? It doesn’t make sense for a coward like him to allow himself to be manhandled across parks for that long when that radio was his ticket out of his hell.
Things to Ponder ...
Maeve spent a lot of time dragging Lee around the parks with her, so isn’t it a major fail that not once, at any point, did she ask Lee if her daughter was still operating in their original story? That simple answer would have allowed her to deduce that she was likely replaced by another Host, which would have maybe prepared her better for their actual reunion. But maybe that’s the price of free will, relinquishing your incredible intellect for the hope that drives humanity in all aspects of life.
The conversation between Dolores and Bernard in the opening was framed like one of Dolores and Arnold’s lab chats, but the twist revealed that it was actually Dolores conducting a fidelity test on her fellow Host. The sequence was also letterboxed, which we see again later in the episode when Bernard enters the Cradle. He experiences the Sweetwater storyline in a way that almost convinces us that he’s in Teddy’s place… until we see Teddy exit the Mariposa. It’s actually the greyhound that tips us off that this is not what we assumed. Indeed, the dog curls up at the base of the piano that Ford seems to be playing. Is that moment implying that this is the "master narrative" and that the red ball contains Ford's consciousness? Or is it Ford’s game which was triggered by his actual death and now has infected the entire park system to play out in the manner that Ford has omnipotently coded?
What Dolores’ plan as they prepare to enter Delos? She’s been trying to amass an army, but she’s basically a lean party of four going into the belly of the beast. Seems like an inadequate head count for her intentions, but I guess we’ll soon see.
What tidbit of information in tonight's episode got you excited about what's to come?