Westworld's "The Passenger" Episode Concludes Season 2 with Hosts Fighting Humans as well as One Another, as they Seek Life in The Valley Beyond.
The sun has set in Westworld (for now) and some of fandom is left with mixed feelings. Not only in regards to Season 2, Episode 10, but also the second season and entire series as a whole.
With each of Westworld's robotic bulls and computerized culminations came more confusion, a lot of head scratching, rushed storyline, and more questions than answers. Most Westworld fans are quick to sing the show's praises, but what kind of science fiction reviewer would I be if I left it at that without exploring the show's highs and lows.
Explaining Westworld Season 2 is no simple task. The story is very (perhaps overly) detailed and multi-faceted. And if I'm being honest, if I have to see Dolores drop another can of beans, I'm going to keel over. But for each overly repetitive flashback and fromage-filled line of dialogue, Westworld's showrunners have given fandom a handful of tasty sci-fi delight. Deep, dimensional, android deliciousness.
The Passenger enchanted us with peaks and valleys of epic imagery, futuristic computer hardware, and emotional grandeur. Dolores Abernathy's unrelenting pursuit of freedom (both physical and psychological) is one of Westworld Season 2's main plot points, but did her character become too dry and uninteresting in the process? One of my followers on Instagram even referred to her as, "Dullores" which I found not only comical, but also accurate.
Bernard Lowe finally seems to make sense of his reason for being, but since we're shown a room filled with multiple Bernards in a prior episode, it becomes increasingly more difficult to decipher which Bernard scenes are real-time (if any), which scenes are flashbacks, or if neither is the case, as there might be multiple Bernards running amuck all at once.
All Images: HBO
(I'll give HBO credit for the way they timed the release of Season 2 of Westworld, but that didn't make me jones for Game of Thrones any less! Teehee.)
The Man In Black (whose character also felt like a lesser version of himself from Season 1 of Westworld) also has some grand realizations, perhaps the greatest of which isn't even shown till after the credits. (If you didn't see the Westworld post-credits scene involving William that aired after the Season 2 Finale, please promptly place your mouse cursor at the end of this sentence, and watch that now.)
Gripes aside, Westworld is simply such a high-caliber show, that even with some of its questionable dialogue and gas-brake-gas-brake pacing, it's still a potent, genre-leading series. A show that brings as much satisfaction to the table as it does speculation.
Westworld's cast deserves a genuine round of applause too. They took a script that was often wonderful, but sometimes dazed and confused, and they did what they know best, performing it gracefully and memorably. So to Evan Rachel Wood, Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Zahn McClarnon, Tessa Thompson, Angela Sarafyan, and everyone else—much respect.
If I could go back and change anything about Westworld up until this point, the first thing that comes to mind is the relationship between Maeve and her daughter. Maeve's desire to protect or free her daughter is a huge, central theme in Season 2 of Westworld, and yet, when she finally accomplishes her mission of ensuring her daughter's safety or freedom, I'm left feeling detached and emotionless.
The only thing I can attribute this to is a lack of character development between Maeve and her daughter. What was shown to me was hollow. If those climactic, riveting scenes involving Maeve and her daughter would have been balanced with more and more-properly executed scenes of them just being mother and daughter, forming a greater bond, confiding in one another, laughing, living, then Maeve's daughter's freedom as well as Maeve's "death" would have been that much more impactful.
A few of the best scenes from Westworld Season 2 (IMHO) were the visual representation of The Valley Beyond, as well as its tangible, hardware-based existence, which consisted of awesome sci-fi computer hardware that lit up magnificently, opening a portal to a digital world. I also enjoyed the bigger, badder hardware Bernard and Dolores wore toward the end of the finale, and the fact that Dolores (then Hale) had roughly five people's memory drives in her purse when she escaped Westworld.
No Season 2 Westworld finale review would be complete without an ever-so honorable mention of the season's 8th episode—Kiksuya. If there were ever a prime example of what Westworld should do more of, this episode featuring Aketcheta (played by Zahn McClarnon) is it. The leader of the Ghost Nation, Aketcheta plays a relatively prominent role in Westworld's second season, but this particular episode stands out from the crowd as a beautiful, subtle yet riveting, heart-wrenching and tear-jerking work of art.
I've heard nothing but praise for Kiksuya, and perhaps being one of Westworld's oldest hosts comes with unrivaled cinematic strength. You'll be hard pressed to find a viewer of HBO's Westworld that doesn't love Season 2's Episode 8. A lot of the sci-fi fans I've chatted with online seem to feel Zahn McClarnon deserves an Emmy for his performance in Kiksuya, and I'm right there with them.
I think that if Westworld's writing staff can recreate some of the slower, calmer magic from Season 1 and Kiksuya, and combine that sort of pacing and dialogue with everything that's transpired in Season 2, Westworld's 3rd Season should be nothing shy of magical. Season 2 certainly had its highlights, many of them, but fandom agrees that some of the plot points and pacing felt forced, and I'm hoping that sensation is alleviated in Westworld's next season.
We might even get lucky and discover more of our favorite Westworld characters are Hosts. Hell, maybe you and I are hosts too! But what I do know for certain is that I have a similar overall feeling about Westworld as I do Star Trek: Discovery. Both are great shows with very solid foundations that just need a little bit more refinement to truly win the hearts of their fans.