Analysis: Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 Recap, “Reunion”

Dolores and Teddy Westworld

The second episode of Westworld season two is titled “Reunion,” and that’s what it delivered, bringing many characters back together – both in the present and the past. We went back in time to learn more about the origins of the park – including Delos’ involvement and true agenda – while in the present Dolores and William seem to be on a collision course as they head west to the “valley beyond.” Let’s start at the beginning and see what we can discover along the way!

The Past (Dolores and Delos)

Angela Westworld

“Reunion” starts with a cold open featuring Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in modern attire, as Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) explains she’s not in a dream but in “our world.” Dolores is wide eyed and full of wonder as she gazes out over the cityscape. “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” Arnold remarks that after while it doesn’t look like anything – calling to mind the hosts’ phrase for whatever conflicts with their narratives. Ford enters in the background (as we hear Anthony Hopkins voice) to retrieve Dolores for a demonstration, but Arnold insists she’s not ready – they should go with the “other girl.”

Arnold decides to show Dolores the home he’s having built for his family so they can be closer to the park, and we get more evidence for its location as we see a neon sign written in Chinese. We also get a better indication of when this is taking place, as Arnold’s son Charlie is still alive – this is likely several years prior to Arnold’s death. Arnold remarks that Dolores and Charlie share a childlike sense of wonder and optimism about the world – something that humans no longer seem to have. Dolores implies that perhaps they don’t have the courage to appreciate change, but Arnold believes that “we’re simply not the ones who deserve it.”

Later we see Logan (Ben Barnes) having drinks with William (Jimmi Simpson) and presumably another employee. William is tired and excuses himself before two representatives of Ford and Arnold’s startup – the Argos Initiative – appear; they are Angela (Talulah Riley) and Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon). Logan is escorted to a party where he will be persuaded to invest on behalf of his father’s company, the Delos corporation. When Logan remarks he thought he was getting a private demonstration, Akecheta and Angela explain it is, and it’s already begun.

They challenge him to pick out the hosts, and Logan is shocked when Angela is revealed to be one. He’s even more surprised when the entire rooms freezes – they are all hosts. Logan proclaims that no one can do this – the technology isn’t advanced enough, but Angela begs to differ telling him, “Welcome to Westworld.” Logan proceeds to “test the merchandise” as we see him in bed with several hosts, including Angela. Dolores appears at the door, sharing a look with Angela. It’s not clear how aware they are in this moment, but neither of them look pleased with the situation.

William and Dolores Westworld

We move forward a few years – William has had his first trip to Westworld by this point, but Delos has not yet taken over. William and founder James Delos (Peter Mullan) fly into Sweetwater, where William attempts to convince James of the park’s value. The park is floundering and on the verge of collapse, and William argues that Ford is desperate, making it easy to dictate the terms of the agreement.  They are investing in the future, and in 20 years this will be “the only reality that matters.” James counters that he will be long gone in 20 years. William appeals to his business sense by saying James spends half his marketing budget trying to figure out what people want, when they don’t even know themselves. The park gives them the freedom to discover it, without worrying they will be watched or judged (not knowing Delos will be recording everything). William proceeds to convince James of the value in seeing people for “who they really are.”

A few years later, William throws a retirement party for James. He has brought in several hosts for the occasion, including Dolores, who is playing the piano. We get a glimpse of William’s daughter Emily and his wife Juliet (Claire Unabia – the model from season one’s stock photo). William walks toward Dolores but is stopped by James, who exclaims the party feels “more like a coronation.” William protests that he doesn’t want James to step down, and James replies he may not have to after all – he is ill but it seems they are working on a solution. According to William, they are making progress but he needs to have patience. Unfortunately for James, “Some of us can afford to have more patience than others.”

We then see Dolores taking a walk around the pool, looking at the skyline and repeating her “full of splendor” line. She realizes Logan is behind her and apologizes for bothering him. Logan, who has become an addict since his fateful trip with Westworld with William, recognizes her and comments that William must have sent her down there as a joke. Dolores responds that she just wanted to look at the lights. As he gestures toward the house, Logan cryptically remarks, “That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn.” He implies Delos will be the cause of humanity’s downfall and hopes their “forever [will] be blissfully short.”

The final scene from the past is of William talking to a naked Dolores in the Delos lab. He calls her “just a thing” and can’t believed he ever loved her. William finally realized what he loved was finding his true self through her; the hosts are just reflections of the guests, and everyone loves their own reflection. He can’t wait to use the hosts to give people a taste of what he experienced. Besides that though, he is working on the answer to a question no one has dreamed of asking. He takes Dolores out into the park to show her what he’s doing – it looks to be a construction site – and asks if she’s ever seen anything “so full of splendor.”

The Present (William)

William Westworld

We finally see Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) again after his involuntary blood donation to Teddy (James Marsden) last season. He has been strung up by some hosts for stealing horses. Fortunately his old pal William (Ed Harris) shows up in the nick of time and shoots the men, telling Lawrence that he normally rescues himself but the hosts are harder to kill now. As if on cue, one of them gets up and attacks William with a knife, but Lawrence manages to swing himself over to a gun and throw it to William, who shoots the host again and remarks, “Dead isn’t what it used to be Lawrence.”

They head to a saloon where William finds a hidden medical kit to patch himself up – since Ford “changed the rules” then cheating is fair game. William explains to Lawrence that he isn’t really a bandit but a “two-bit tour guide” who is now finally free, but that the park is going down in flames and they will all be dead soon. First, however, they can discover the men they could have been. They discuss the nature of religion and whether they will be judged by God and their souls damned for their sins. Lawrence says it always “sounded like bullshit” and William agrees it is in the “real world.” The park was meant as a place to sin in peace, but Delos was watching – tallying sins and choices – not for judgement but for something else.

“I have received my judgment all the same, Lawrence, and I take issue with it, because up until this point the stakes in this place haven’t been real. So I’m gonna fight my way back, and appeal the verdict – then I’m going burn this whole fucking thing to the ground.”

Lawrence says if they are going to the pearly gates (could this be the same place as the valley beyond?) don’t they have to die to get there? It’s to the west, where the Confederados are gathering (hold that thought) and it may be safer to go through Pariah. Once they get there the streets are littered with corpses, but at least they will find an army as well. William finds El Lazo (played by Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito in a mind blowing – pun intended – cameo) and tells Lawrence he was El Lazo in a past life. William tries to convince El Lazo and his men to head west with them – for treasure beyond their wildest dreams, a real victory (not a scripted one), and the truth. El Lazo refuses – his work is done and he’s seen all the truth he can bear.

William grabs him and puts a gun to his head, demanding he command his men to go west with them. El Lazo replies, “This game was meant for you William, but you must play it alone.” His men all shoot themselves, and so does El Lazo, after telling William he’ll see him in the valley beyond. William is frustrated, explaining to Lawrence that Robert doesn’t want to make this easy. Lawrence asks if Robert built the place of judgement, but William admits that he did, and it was his “greatest mistake.”

The Present (Dolores)

S2 E2_1

We finally see what happened to the Delos board member Angela told to run in the premiere – he makes his way to a tech outpost. Apparently no one inside has any clue what’s been going on (you’d think if there was no communication they would send someone out to check). The man tells them the hosts are rebelling right before Dolores and company crash the party. She confronts the board member, saying they thought they could do whatever they wanted to the hosts and not be judged – well, turnabout is fair play. He tells her she doesn’t know what they are up against, what’s really out there, but Dolores knows all too well. She remembers.

Angela dispatches the man and Dolores proceeds to show Teddy the truth of what they are. She tells a tech, Phil (Patrick Cage) to pull up Teddy’s history, and Teddy is horrified to see pictures of his own dead body. He slams Phil against the wall, demanding to know why and is told it was “just for fun.” Later, Angela and Dolores interrogate another employee by holding his head in the white goo they use to make hosts. He tells them to expect 600 to 800 people to come and restore order, securing one sector at a time. He shows them the rallying point on a map, which looks to be on a coast (perhaps the same beach where Bernard wakes up?). Dolores asks if he knows the true purpose of the park and what they are guarding, because she does.

The hosts need allies, so Dolores takes a reanimated “dead” Confederado to lead them to the rest of his group. Teddy and Dolores stop and wait for Angela to bring them word once they are found, and we get another reunion as Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her sidekicks – including Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) in a hilariously ridiculous outfit – walk up. Dolores believes Maeve should want revenge; they will have to fight to keep their freedom. Maeve responds, “Revenge is just a different prayer at their altar darling, and I’m well off my knees.” She challenges Dolores on her methods and asks Teddy if he feels free. Maeve wants to be allowed on her way, and after a brief but tense standoff, Dolores relents.

Dolores and company enter the Confederado lair, where they are having a dinner with a very “last supper” vibe (which is appropriate, given how things turn out for their leader). Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) and his men are a bit upset about the return of the dead and buried lieutenant. Dolores says she returned him because she wants to join forces and head west with them to Glory (is this also the valley beyond?). Craddock doesn’t want to bargain with a woman – he’d rather keep one of them for himself and give the other to his men. Dolores tells Teddy that the men don’t know any better and to enlighten them, so they shoot them all. She motions for Phil the tech to wake Craddock up. She explains that they they toiled in God’s service long enough, so she killed him. They won’t make it to Glory without her favor.

As Dolores and her new army approach what looks like a fort – where Craddock’s commander Colonel Brigham is waiting – Dolores tells Teddy that although the Colonel may not be happy with the new state of affairs she will change his mind. He’ll have to listen once they get to Glory, which she confirms is also the valley beyond. Dolores knows what they will find there – an “old friend was foolish enough to show me, long ago.” Glory isn’t a place, it’s a weapon – one Dolores will use to destroy her enemies.

Conclusions

This episode gave us a few answers, but as usual raised many new questions. Dolores’ fascination with the city lights and repeated use of the “full of splendor” phrase is intriguing – perhaps it ties into the larger mystery somehow. We also get some nice backstory in the past timeline: we see that Arnold’s affection and favoritism toward Dolores existed even before his son died, and that he very clearly disdained his fellow humans. Given William’s later comments to Dolores about people loving their own reflections, humanity does seem to be quite selfish. Perhaps there is some hidden meaning to the name Arnold and Ford gave their company, the Argos Initiative. In Greek myth, Argos was the birthplace of the demigod Perseus – famous for slaying the monster Medusa by using her own reflection against her. Make of that what you will.

We are also given clues that James Delos was terminally ill, and William was working on a cure. We know that by Ford’s time, disease has been eradicated – but not death. Did James Delos die before a cure was found? Was he preserved somehow, waiting for the solution to death itself? Perhaps old William’s line of “death isn’t what it used to be” doesn’t apply only to hosts. William seems to be on a quest of redemption, but what did he create that’s his biggest mistake? A way to cheat death and become an immortal host? Perhaps he was deemed unworthy of receiving that gift, and that’s the judgement he plans to appeal?

What does this mean for Dolores? Could the weapon be the ability to control humans placed in host bodies? Or is she planning to destroy their hard work, preventing them from achieving this goal of immortality? Since she and William seem to be on the same path, they may be working toward the same goal – total destruction of the Delos secret agenda. And if indeed the “rallying point” is the beach where Bernard is found, did Dolores plant him there knowing he would lead them into her trap? One thing is for sure, there is going to be a very big reckoning as everyone heads to the “valley beyond.”

What are your theories Westworld fans? Sound off in the comments!

 

17 responses to “Analysis: Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 Recap, “Reunion””

  1. I’m excited for the “very big reckoning” in the Valley Beyond. It is going to be epic.

    I hope that the MIB doesn’t cross paths with Maeve or Dolores. Both would certainly want him dead. Maeve’s storyline will probably take her to Shogun World soon (presumably by episode 5), for reasons unknown, but Dolores and the MIB heading to the same place doesn’t seem to bode well for the MIB. Maybe he can somehow convince her that they are on the same side now (sort of? Still a little confused on the MIB’s motivations), if Dolores doesn’t just shoot him on site.

    Something seemed off with Dolores in the real world, when she repeated the “full of splendor” line to Arnold. Arnold didn’t seem to like that, or seemed a little disappointed at the very least. It seemed to me that this might’ve been a hint at Dolores not making progress in her ‘awakening,’ as her improvisational skills weren’t stellar.

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  2. “Since she and William seem to be on the same path, they may be working toward the same goal – total destruction of the Delos secret agenda. ”

    This is a wonderful suggestion and deserves discussion. What, then, is Delos’ secret agenda? I hope that it isn’t immortality. William certainly seems to have a death wish but his quest, IMO, is still unclear.

    We know that Young William wanted to collect data on the guests…for blackmail purposes and/or to predict behavior. This led to their ability to harvest DNA. Yes, they may have used it for good (cure disease) but that is their cover. I don’t see anything benevolent about Delos. Old William wants to correct a mistake and it has to begin with the data collection.

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  3. mariamb,

    I agree. The ‘secret weapon’ that Dolores is going to seems to be tied in with this secret agenda too. I don’t think it is immortality… but your suggestion of blackmail seems very plausible to me. Maybe this isn’t the full agenda, but when William starts talking to Lawrence about how Delos was watching the whole time and taking tallies of everyone’s sins and choices, it definitely sounded like a big old worldwide blackmail was coming.

    Side note: Good pick up on the Last Supper comparison,
    Vanessa, ! I hadn’t noticed on my first watch but this is some good analysis. And the whole bit about the Argos Initiative/ Greek mythology. Well done, m’lady.

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  4. mariamb: What, then, is Delos’ secret agenda?

    Yeah good question.

    I looked up the plot of the original movies on wiki and in the sequel Futureworld it is revealed that Delos works to replace world leaders with clones. We may get something similar on the show. Though probably with some differences. But it would explain why they would harvest DNA.

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  5. The Wolves of Winter,

    I’ve been hearing speculation of replacing important figures in the real world with hosts that they can control. Good to know that this is rooted in some substantial evidence!

    You’re making me think that watching the movies could be a solid move before we get too far into the series. The only problem is I’ve heard they’re pretty bad.

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  6. The Wolves of Winter,

    Agree. I commented on that in the open chat thread. Delos may be using the DNA for some sort of “world domination” plot. Hopefully, it is more nuanced than that because when I hear that an organization is harvesting DNA in secret, I assume that nothing good will result.

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  7. Could the weapon be the Terraforming machine? She uses that to create the sea that wasn’t supposed to be there in episode one.

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  8. “Logan cryptically remarks, “That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn.” He implies Delos will be the cause of humanity’s downfall and hopes their “forever [will] be blissfully short.”

    I’m going to give Logan some credit here and say that we should heed his warning. My guess is that he is aware of the ethical issues involved with collecting guests’ DNA and doesn’t approve. In S1, I think that he advocated for scaling back the “realness” of the hosts.

    I’m hoping that we get to see a clean and sober Logan in present-day Westworld. He can be the anti-William. We could also use a human on a redemptive arc.

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  9. Hexonx,

    Possibly but to what end? To kill hosts? To prevent the human rescue squad – the one that the guy with the white goop on his face warned about?

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  10. Jaehaerys,

    When Dolores repeated the “full of splendor” line (which was repeated several more times later on the episode) it was her beginning. She was with Arnold, who built her, trying her out in public. He and Ford were about to put on a “show” of the hosts they had built. Dolores was not ready for prime time yet and Ford (in the background) said, use the other girl. Through the years she grew (you need time to understand your enemy) to become more aware.

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  11. I brought up the question about Bernard saying.. I killed them all when he sees all the hosts dead in the water. I have been wondering …why are they there in the first place?
    Going back through a few things— what about — when Bernard was in with Charlottes secret bunker, (how could she have ANYTHING secret there?) and he was leaking fluid, she told him to FIND Abernathy who had all the code info in his brain. Remember when he had the tablet in his hand and it was sending out a signal? That signal told all the hosts to go to a specific place so they would be safe from all the killing. What Bernard didn’t know was that the canyon was going to be flooded with water and they all “drowned” aka I killed them all.

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