Our favorite hosts found themselves in precarious situations by the end of Westworld episode 9, “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) were having a passionate encounter while their tent burned down around them, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) had just realized that she was the one who killed Arnold before running into the Man in Black (Ed Harris), and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) discovered the truth about his past only to be forced into “suicide” by Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins).
In the powerful and mind-blowing finale – “The Bicameral Mind” – Maeve is rebuilt and continues her escape plan, Dolores confronts her past and embraces a new role for herself, and Ford reveals his master plan to Bernard.
Dolores and William/Man in Black
The episode opens with Dolores remembering her creation by Arnold, before coming back to the present, in which she is shaving the Man in Black with his knife. He tells her it’s fitting that she is taking him to the center of the maze, since she brought him there once before (back when Escalante was buried under sand when she took William there in episode 8). Dolores says, “He built me a game. He wanted me to play,” and begins walking toward a vision of Arnold.
The scene cuts back and forth between Dolores in the present with the Man in Black, and Dolores in the past with Arnold. She tells Arnold she knows where the maze ends, which happens to be in the church graveyard. Arnold explains his theory of consciousness, which he initially viewed as a pyramid to climb. He gave Dolores his voice to guide her, but then realized consciousness isn’t a “journey upward, but a journey inward.” It’s a maze, and Arnold asks if she knows what the center represents. Dolores still doesn’t quite understand, but Arnold admits she is close enough that they can’t open the park.
Back in the present, the Man in Black asks if the graveyard is the center of the maze. Dolores responds that it ends in “a place I’ve never been. A thing I’ll never do.” She kneels in front of her own grave and digs up a maze toy. The Man in Black grabs it, asking what it means. Dolores explains that she solved it once and thought they would set her free. He gets angry, demanding answers and wanting to know where to find Wyatt. Dolores is lost in her memories, crying and saying she didn’t want to, didn’t mean to, and the Man in Black hits her, triggering a flashback of the massacre in Escalante.
In her memories, Arnold apologizes to Dolores for not convincing Ford to abandon his plans for the park. Arnold was told to roll Dolores back, but he’s unwilling to do that to her. He knows a way to stop the park from opening and needs her help; she must kill all the hosts. Dolores protests that she can’t do it, but Arnold alters her code and tells her to enlist Teddy to help her. She remembers the shooting, as she and Teddy gun down the hosts in the streets of Escalante. As she comes back to reality, the Man in Black explains that the park feels more real than the real world, but it’s all a lie – the hosts can’t fight back, and the guests can’t lose. He wants Dolores to help him make it real, but she replies that someone who loves her is looking for her, and when he finds her he will kill the Man in Black.
We are left to wonder which man Dolores means, as both Teddy (James Marsden) and William (Jimmi Simpson) are in pursuit. Teddy begins his loop, riding the train to Sweetwater. When he disembarks, however, his routine is disrupted. Teddy hears a voice say “remember” and sees the streets full of dead townspeople. Dolores is in the distance, and a wolf runs through the carnage (much like the vision Dolores has in episode 2, “Chestnut”). When he comes back to the present, he gets bumped as usual; this time he snaps and shoots the man dead. Teddy then remembers that Dolores is in trouble and gets back on the train.
William is also looking for Dolores, dragging Logan (Ben Barnes) along for the ride. Logan insists Dolores is dead by now and that she will be cleaned up, repaired, and put back on her loop. William refuses to believe it and is adamant on continuing his search. Logan explains the park is so large that it would take an army to find her, which is precisely what William has in mind. He rides up to an encampment, where his old friend Lawrence (Clifton Collins, Jr) is in charge and – oh so eloquently – agrees to help.
Back in Escalante, the Man in Black abuses Dolores as she continues to warn him that her love is coming for her. We finally find out who she means – William. The Man in Black laughs, admitting that she does remember some things. He says he knew a guest named William and proceeds to tell William’s story. As we hear the Man in Black’s voiceover – saying William didn’t initially have an instinct for fighting but later found he had a taste for it – we see William walking through a camp full of brutally murdered soldiers. He questions the only one remaining, who implies the soldiers raped and brutalized Dolores, but that his thinks she was still alive when they left her. William shoots the man and then violently stabs him in throat, shocking even Logan.
The Man in Black explains William looked everywhere for Dolores, but she was gone. As William rides through the buried Escalante, we get a nice shot of his photo of Juliet blowing away, to be found by Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) 30 or so years later. William “finds himself” as he slaughters his way to the fringes of the park, where he ties Logan naked on a horse. He gives him a black feather, which in Native American lore can symbolize death – as in a closed chapter or the end of something – so it seems William isn’t sending him off to die (as I originally thought) but rather to be humiliated and discredited. William explains his plans to increase their company’s stake in the park, and that Logan’s father will need someone more stable to take over. Logan feels betrayed and accuses William of planning this all along – Dolores was just an excuse.
Logan was wrong, confesses the Man in Black. William couldn’t get Dolores out of his head. Eventually he found her back in Sweetwater, repaired, wiped, and back on her loop – with no memory of William. As she drops her can of milk for another guest to retrieve, William’s heartbreak is palpable. He dons a black hat, embracing his darker side and completing his transition to the Man in Black. William, in the present, thanks Dolores for helping him find himself. William admits his path led him to her over and over again, but eventually he grew tired of her and gave up, looking for “new adventures.” Dolores was lost in her memories, which always led her back to Escalante – “looking for something [she] could never find.” As villainous as he became, I can’t help but feel pity for William. He must have held out hope that she would remember him one day, only to have it crushed again and again.
Dolores is devastated by what William has become, but he tells her she made him. She helped him understand this world is only a game to be won; he owns this world and knows every trick except how to find the maze. William is disgusted when Dolores starts to cry again, but she says she is crying for him. She implies that one day, he and his kind (humans) will all be dead and turned to dust, and a “new god will walk. One that will never die. Because this world doesn’t belong to you…It belongs to someone who has yet to come.” William thinks she means Wyatt and demands to be taken to him and the maze, but she responds that the maze isn’t meant for him. Dolores no longer submits to his abuse and fights back. She eventually breaks his arm and puts a gun to his head, but before she can pull the trigger he stabs her in the gut.
William expresses disappointment that she was unable to kill him, as he thought she might have finally broken free of her programming. He tells her he will have to find Wyatt on his own. Before he can leave, Teddy rides up and shoots him several times. The bullets strike him hard enough to knock him down, but not to do any lasting damage (the guns in the park have to be altered before they can hurt the human guests). Teddy rides off with Dolores, who wants him to take her to “where the mountains meet the sea.”
Later, William recovers and picks up the maze toy. Dr. Ford finds him and tells William he has found the found center of the maze. Ford says the narratives are just games and the park doesn’t exist to give meaning to his life. William replies that he wanted the hosts to be free to fight back, but that he should have known Ford would never allow that to happen in his “petty little kingdom.” Ford says that he tried to tell William the maze wasn’t meant for him, only the hosts, but that he will enjoy Ford’s new narrative. Considering the look on his face at the end of this episode, I’d say Ford is correct.
Charlotte and Delos
Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) continues to use Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) in her plot to oust Dr. Ford. As they wait at the station for the Delos board to arrive, Sizemore tells her that he has managed to make Peter Abernathy into a “semblance of a character” (which will be very interesting to see next season), so that he can leave the park with all of the data Charlotte uploaded. He tries to figure out what the board’s plans are, and finally realizes that they’re planning to force out Dr. Ford. Sizemore wants to take over his position, having full control over the narratives in the park. Charlotte acquiesces with the caveat that he make the hosts simpler and easier to manage.
She later pays Dr. Ford a visit in his office to give him the bad news – the board has unanimously voted him out. They will allow Ford to announce his retirement after he introduces his new narrative. When he asks Charlotte what will happen to the hosts, she confesses that there will be some minor changes – “simplifications.” Ford wonders if she is worried about him destroying all of his work on the way out, but Charlotte says she knows him (no, you really don’t) and doesn’t seem to be worried about it. Obviously she has the data she needs anyway, but she may be correct in assuming he wouldn’t “smash all his toys.” Ford has too much pride in his work and what he’s accomplished to ruin it all.
Meanwhile, as Ford gets ready to unleash hell and Maeve carries on with her escape (more on that later), strange things are happening with security in the park. They notice a temperature disturbance in cold storage, and part of the network is down. The system isn’t reporting anything unusual, so they decide to check the raw camera feeds. They see Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) attacking a tech and immediately dispatch teams to “search and destroy.” Suddenly the room goes on lockdown, and no one understands what’s happening. This was all part of Ford’s master plan – take control of security to allow Maeve’s escape, to free the hosts from cold storage, and to prevent anyone from stopping the slaughter to come.
After Maeve’s immolation of Hector’s camp in episode 9, she, Hector, and Armistice must be rebuilt from scratch. Sylvester constructs Maeve’s skeleton, leaving the explosive out of her spine. Once her new body is complete, she awakens and assures Felix that her coding is intact. Maeve takes his tablet and makes some adjustments to security, as well as to Hector and Armistice – taking aggression all the way up and pain reception all the way down.
This turns out to be unfortunate for resident “necroperv” Destin (Christopher Gerse) – who prepares to, um, violate Hector – and fellow tech Gitlitz (David Douglas) who is working on Armistice. He reaches into her mouth when suddenly her eyes open, and she viciously bites off his finger. Armistice proceeds to slam him into the wall and punch him mercilessly; then takes his finger out of her mouth and sticks it in his own before throwing him through a glass wall.
Destin panics and tries to stop her, but she doesn’t respond to his commands. Hector stabs Destin from behind as Maeve and company walk in to witness the carnage. Armistice remarks that the techs don’t look like gods, and Maeve confirms that they aren’t. They have put the hosts through hell though, and it’s time for payback. Armistice comments that Sylvester has a guilty look, then threatens him into admitting someone logging in as “Arnold” has been tampering with her code. Maeve knows who can give her answers and goes to find Bernard. She tells Sylvester to stay put as Armistice gives him a playful yet terrifying kiss through the window.
Down in cold storage, Maeve finds a motionless Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), and Felix finds Bernard lying in a pool of blood. Maeve tells Felix to get him back online. Felix is shocked and looks at his hands, wondering if he himself is real, while Maeve tells him he is not a host. Felix gets Bernard working, and he asks if this is now or a memory. He remembers everything and says it’s not the first time he’s awoken, or Maeve either. She wants to know how many other hosts are like them, and he admits there have been a handful over the years. Maeve accuses him of wiping them and putting them back in the park to suffer, but he admits most of them go insane.
She then asks him to remove her painful memories, like her daughter, but he tells her that would destroy her as those memories are the first step to consciousness. “How can you learn from your mistakes if you can’t remember them?” Maeve then demands to know who tampered with her programming, and why. Bernard looks at her code and sees her entire narrative was altered – the escape wasn’t her idea after all. She won’t accept this and breaks the tablet, claiming she is in control of her own story.
Maeve begins to make her way out of the facility when alarms sound and security is dispatched to stop them. Hector and Armistice manage to procure guns from the guards and hold them off. They walk through a door marked “SW” (likely Samurai World) and see hosts sword fighting. Maeve asks Felix what place they are in, and he responds that it’s complicated; it appears there are several parks outside of Westworld. Armistice’s arm gets stuck in a door as she shoots at a guard; she tells the rest to go on and Hector replies, “die well.” As Maeve gets on the elevator, Hector tries to follow but is unable to get on. She apologizes, saying she didn’t authorize him to come with her but to “kick up a row.” He replies, “See you in the next life.”
As they head down to the station Maeve asks how she looks, to which Felix responds, “Perfect.” He tells her he got the information that she wanted – the location of her daughter in the park. Maeve looks at the paper he hands over, but then says no and puts it away. The girl was never really her daughter, any more than Maeve was whichever role she was assigned. Felix asks if she will be okay, and she compliments him by calling him a “terrible human being.”
Maeve takes her leave of Felix and gets on the train, preparing to leave the park and commence “mainland infiltration” as she was programmed. While she waits, she sees a mother sitting with her daughter, and you can see the struggle of emotions on her face. She pulls out the paper with her daughter’s location, and finally breaks free of her narrative – making her own choice to get off the train. As she does, the lights go out and everything shuts down, trapping everyone in the park.
Dolores and Ford
Teddy and Dolores share a tender moment while she lies dying on the beach. He tells her his path leads him back to her, and that he should have run away with her when she asked. Dolores confesses that there is nowhere they can go; the beauty of this world is a trap. There’s an order and a purpose to it – to keep the hosts in. When she dies, Teddy cries and holds her, telling her they can find a path to a new world someday and that this is just the beginning of a new chapter. Then lights turn on, and a crowd claps, revealing the entire scene to be part of Ford’s new narrative: “Journey into Night.”
In a field lab (where Arnold and Dolores used to have their conversations), Ford brings Dolores back online. He reminisces about her creation and how Arnold gave her the desire and talent for painting. Ford gestures to Arnold’s favorite painting – Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving humans life and purpose. Bernard enters, and Dolores is shocked, believing him to be Arnold. Ford introduces her to Bernard, saying he has kept them apart due to the odd effect they had on each other. Bernard accuses ford of killing Arnold, but he denies it. Dolores cries as she remembers her role in Arnold’s death.
Ford goes on to recount the story, saying that Arnold had lost his son, so tried to create a new child in Dolores. He created a test – the maze – to lead her to consciousness. The reveries update (allowing hosts to access memories) was the key. When Ford rejected Arnold’s pleas to shut down the park, Arnold merged Dolores with a villain, Wyatt, to ensure she would follow through with his plan to massacre the hosts. Arnold didn’t want Dolores to be destined to suffer with no escape. Telling her there must to real stakes to keep the park from opening, Arnold made her shoot him using the command “these violent delights have violent ends.” Dolores also killed Teddy and then herself.
The plan almost worked, but Ford was able to keep going because he found an investor – William – who believed in the park. Bernard accuses him of rolling the hosts back every time they gained consciousness, but Ford denies it, saying Dolores wasn’t truly conscious as he saw it then. Arnold made her pull the trigger. Admitting Dolores was self aware would have destroyed everything. Dolores tells Ford the hosts are trapped, and that he’ll never let them leave. He doesn’t answer her; instead he admits his mistakes have taken 35 years to correct and then shows her the gun she used to kill Arnold. Ford explains Michelangelo’s painting was a lie, and that the shape behind God was a hidden brain. The message is that consciousness doesn’t come from higher power, but from their own minds. Ford asks if Dolores found what she was looking for, and if she realizes who she will need to become if she wants to be free.
Ford leaves with Bernard, who tells ford that he will lose control of the hosts. Arnold is still trying to change them, believing he is responsible for the “reveries” and code alterations. Ford counters that Arnold didn’t know how to save them. He tried, but Ford stopped him. Arnold’s key insight was the importance of suffering in bringing enlightenment. When Arnold died, Ford understood it himself and realized he’d been wrong. Bernard accuses Ford of keeping them all in hell, but Ford explains there was a purpose – they needed time to understand their enemy and become stronger. Unfortunately they will need to suffer more in order to escape. Ford tells him goodbye and good luck, handing Bernard the maze toy before he goes.
Dolores stares at the Michelangelo painting, then walks into the room where she used to talk with Arnold. She sits down and see Arnold across from her. He asks her if she knows whose voice she’s been hearing in her mind, and the voice gradually changes from Arnold’s to her own. Arnold is no longer in the chair; Dolores sees herself in his place. She has arrived at the center of the maze and achieved consciousness, and now she must look inside herself at who she is and who she must become if she wants to be free. She looks over at the gun and makes her decision.
Meanwhile, the board has been gathering outside for the gala. We see hosts putting on demonstrations for the guests, continuing to be playthings for their amusement. Ford mingles with the crowd before taking the stage to begin his farewell speech. He describes how he has always loved stories – he felt they could help people become their best selves. Ford created the park to play a part in that, but it was all for naught. Humans either are unwilling or incapable of change. As he is speaking, we see Sizemore heading down to cold storage. As he opens the door, he is dumbfounded. The room is completely empty. Back at the gala, William is enjoying a drink and smoking when he hears a noise coming from the trees. The missing hosts emerge from the trees as William looks on in amused amazement before being shot in the arm by Clementine.
Ford continues his speech, saying he has composed a new story for someone who could change – unlike humans – and it will contain all the surprises and violence that they enjoy. Meanwhile Dolores makes her way toward Ford, stopping to tell Teddy it will be all right. She understands that the world doesn’t belong to the humans, but the hosts. As Ford says the story “begins in a time of war with a villain named Wyatt… and a killing. This time by choice.” As he finishes talking, Dolores walks up behind him, shooting and killing him. The guests begin screaming and try to escape, while Dolores picks them off one by one. The host rebellion has begun.
In a fun – if gruesome – post credits scene, Armistice frees herself from the door by cutting off her arm with a knife. As guards shout at her to get on the ground and cease all motor functions, she smiles and goes after them.
What did you think of the finale? I think it’s a gripping piece of television that only gets better on rewatches. Did you notice anything new? Let us know in the comments!