Analysis: Westworld Season 2 Episode 6 Recap, “Phase Space”

Bernard in Cradle Westworld

Another Westworld episode down, and once again we are given a few answers but left with even more questions. We were left to ponder the ramifications of Dolores’ versus Maeve’s methods of obtaining freedom, and to question the nature of our reality (well, Bernard’s anyway). Let’s board the train as we take a trip through “Phase Space!”

The episode opens with a longer version of the Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Arnold? (Jeffrey Wright) conversation we saw in the season two premiere – where Dolores asks why he would ever be frightened of her. Arnold expresses concern over who she might become and appears to weigh his options, as Dolores interrupts to inform him he said the wrong line. She is testing him for “fidelity” and has done it countless times. What are we actually seeing here? We’ll come back to this later…

Dolores and Teddy

Dolores and Teddy Westworld

Teddy (James Marsden) walks the streets of Sweetwater and finds Dolores’ discarded milk can. He bends down, and instead of picking it up he retrieves a bullet from the ground instead – it’s a nice visual clue that Evil Teddy is now choosing violence over chivalry. He walks into the Mariposa where Dolores is playing the piano. He tells here they are ready to go, and she reflects on how many times Teddy died after getting off that same train. “The man who rode that train was built weak and born to fail. You fixed him,” he replies, and Dolores looks uncertain about her decision to put Teddy in black hat mode.

Dolores’ minions are interrogating a security guy about her father’s whereabouts. He responds desperately that Hale didn’t give specifics and the Mesa is huge. Dolores’ pet tech Phil (Patrick Cage) tries to convince him to give them any clue he can, but Teddy – who no longer has patience – walks over and shoots the security guy in the head. Poor Phil looks terrified, Angela (Talulah Riley) looks proud, and Dolores looks like she’s  beginning to regret the creation of Evil Teddy.

Once they are on the train, Dolores remarks that her daddy told her she should run from this place. Teddy remarks that he didn’t think he’d ever want to leave, but he supposes Dolores fixed that too. Angela lets them know they are almost to their destination. Apparently for Phil, it’s a final destination, as Teddy gives him a gun and a bullet – explaining it’s the last of Teddy’s mercy. They then uncouple the train car holding Phil, who screams for help as it rolls away. RIP Phil.

Maeve

Maeve and Daugher Westworld

We head over to Shogun World and the aftermath of the samurai battle. Maeve (Thandie Newton) has won, but Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) still grieves over the loss of Sakura (Kiki Sukezane). Akane says goodbye, but first she cuts out Sakura’s heart so she can carry it to her home – and final resting place. When they arrive back to town, they find Tanaka (Masayoshi Haneda) and his men have captured Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), and their gangs. Maeve prepares to use her mind control, but Musashi challenges Tanaka to a duel instead. When Akane asks Maeve to intervene, Maeve responds, “We each deserve to choose our own fate, even if that fate is death.”

Luckily Musashi doesn’t have to face death just yet, as he handily (pun intended) defeats Tanaka. The group then journeys to Sakura’s home to lay her spirit to rest. After Akane burns Sakura’s heart, Maeve implores her and Musashi to come with them. They refuse to leave their home, preferring to stay and defend it. Akane echoes back Maeve’s words about choosing their own fates, and Maeve relents. She and her group head back underground with a new addition – Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) – who chooses to join them.

They arrive back in Westworld near Maeve’s old homestead, and of course Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) wants a pat on the head for being a good boy and finding it. Maeve expresses sincere gratitude, and Sizemore looks taken aback by the sentiment. Maeve decides she must head down alone and asks the group to wait for her. She finds her daughter on the porch playing with dolls – a mother and child. She tells Maeve that the mother doll doesn’t want the bad man to take her daughter away. Maeve assures her that her mother wouldn’t let that happen, as the girl’s new mother (surprise, surprise) arrives, just before the Ghost Nation attack narrative comes into play.

Maeve grabs her daughter and tries to run to safety, but she is stopped by Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon). He wants Maeve to come with him, saying they are destined for the same path, but she replies his path “leads to hell.” Meanwhile, Hector et al have come to the rescue, driving off the remaining Ghost Nation hosts while Maeve and her daughter run for safety. As Felix (Leonardo Nam) prepares to go help Maeve (bless him), Sizemore stops to use the radio he retrieved in the last episode to call for security reinforcements. Felix walks off in disgust.

William and Emily

William and Emily Westworld

Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr) questions William (Ed Harris) about the wisdom of bringing his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers) on their journey through the park. William implies that she’s tougher than she looks. Emily asks William if he is going to acknowledge her presence. He questions whether she is a host and just part of Ford’s game; she questions his sanity. William tells her to go down to the beach and wait for rescue before she gets herself killed, but she demonstrates the absurdity of this statement by rescuing him and his men from an ambush.

Once they camp for the night, William offers Emily a drink. When William questions why she came, Emily informs him that Charlotte Hale sent her an invitation to the gala, but she told her to where to shove it. Emily decided not to waste the trip, however, and decided to visit The Raj. Emily proceeds to make her father uncomfortable with her “riding” innuendo, and he reveals what an inattentive husband and father he was by not remembering his wife was scared of the elephants (and not Emily). After all hell broke loose in the park, Emily tells William she wound up in Westworld.

Emily finds it sad that although she saw the appeal of “life without consequences” as a child, she grew out of it – William never did. He wonders about her motive for coming to him: does she want protection or just to watch him die? Emily reveals that she doesn’t want either – she shouldn’t have blamed him for  her mother’s death. She wants him to come home and not “go out in some bullshit blaze of glory.” With tears in his eyes, he asks her if that will make them even. “It will be a good start,” she replies. William agrees to leave with her at sunup – the park can burn itself down. Sadly for Emily, she wakes in the morning to finds he lied to her; everyone except one host is gone.

Lawrence and the rest of the gang continue the journey with William, only to be ambushed by Ghost Nation. They ride off with the Ghost Nation hosts hot on their heels. It’s unclear where this falls in the timeline relative to Maeve, but it’s possible these are the same hosts who ride to the homestead. It will be interesting to see if Maeve and William cross paths…

Stubbs and Hale

Stubbs Hale and Abernathy Westworld

Over at the Mesa Hub, Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) has apparently survived his adventure with Ghost Nation unscathed. Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) has also managed make it there – looking none the worse for wear – with Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) in tow. As they walk through the facility together, they hear distant gunshots, and we learn it has been almost a week since all hell broke loose in the park. Stubbs is upset to know that Delos has been keeping secrets from him as head of security, but Hale dismisses his concerns saying he was there to “secure an amusement park” – a job he has failed. Hale finds a communication device to alert the mainland that she has Abernathy and to send the extraction team. Stubbs is shocked Delos would leave hundreds of guests in danger just for “one control unit worth of data.”

Hale takes Abernathy to a lab to immobilize him, which the techs accomplish by driving bolts through his body into a chair. Stubbs looks on sympathetically as he screams, and I just wonder why they couldn’t have put the poor guy to sleep first. Later, the cavalry arrives as we see Coughlin (Timothy V. Murphy) – head of the extraction team – barking orders and berating the techs. One of them explains that something strange is going on with main system – it’s telling them everything is operating normally even though it obviously is not. Coughlin tells him to hack it or find a back door, but he replies the system won’t allow access to certain protocols and can’t be forced. He sends security to retrieve Abernathy as the map comes back online, showing the train headed right for them.

Bernard and Elsie

Bernard and Elsie Westworld

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) walk along the train tracks leading to the Mesa Hub. Elsie remarks that Ford’s quarantine notices are still getting out (if you’re not sure what she means, check it out here), so communications aren’t completely down. Bernard admires her optimism; he tells her, “If anyone can right this ship by force of sheer will, it’s you.” When they enter the Mesa, Elsie expresses disgust that the QA team killed the welcome hosts – they weren’t a threat.

When Elsie finds a computer and logs into the system, she sees that QA has been trying to regain control but is continuously blocked by the Cradle. Since the Cradle only serves as backup for all the hosts and as a narrative simulation, Bernard insists it shouldn’t be able to influence other systems. Elsie replies that’s exactly what it’s doing – not only that, it’s improvising and fighting back. Unfortunately they can’t access the source code remotely to find out who is doing this; they will have to go into the Cradle itself.

They enter room CR4DL (clever), and Elsie is quite disturbed by being inside a giant “hive mind.” Bernard remembers bringing something or someone here and has flashbacks to printing the red pearl at the secret Delos lab. Elsie still can’t read the source code, so Bernard makes the painful decision to interface with it directly (after all, “pain is just a program”). A machine pulls out his host control unit, and inserts the red one from Bernard’s memories.

As Elsie wonders what Bernard is seeing (and an ominous explosion occurs in the distance – hello Dolores), Bernard sees himself on the train to Sweetwater. He enters town to see all the hosts on their loops, the old narratives in play, and watches a greyhound running down the street (hint hint). Bernard enters the Mariposa to find a familiar face playing the piano, with the host version of his old pet at his feet. Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) greets Bernard with “Hello, old friend.”

Conclusions and Speculation

Dolores Westworld

This episode gives us another nice contrast between Dolores and Maeve. We see the aftermath of Dolores’ choice to alter Teddy, and it is brutal. She appears to wonder at times if she made the right decision, although she felt it was the right one if he was going to survive and help her escape. Maeve – on the other hand – has ample opportunity to bend hosts to her will, but instead she gives them the agency to choose their own fates; regardless if it in any of their best interests. Whose method is the right one? Should we force others to do what we think will result in the best outcome, or should we allow them to choose for themselves despite knowing it may end badly for everyone?

On to the big mystery…what are we seeing with Bernard, Dolores, and Ford? The aspect ration is different for the Cradle scenes, and also for the Dolores/Arnold (Bernard? Bernarnold?) conversations. Are those taking place in a Cradle simulation as well? The beginning scene looks like Dolores testing a host-human Arnold for fidelity, something that she’s done “countless times.” If this were done in a simulation, it should speed the process exponentially – you could conceivably run multiple simulations concurrently until it produced the desired result.

However…the red pearl seems to be Ford, since it has been in the Cradle and would explain how Ford has been interacting with William through different hosts, as well as controlling every park system. Has another one been printed for Arnold? Is that really Arnold in those scenes with Dolores? Is that really Dolores, or is Ford pretending to be her in a simulation? Perhaps they somehow merge Ford and Bernarnold into one unit; if the Ford red pearl stays in the Cradle, it will certainly be destroyed along with everything else.

Random observations:

  • Did anyone notice the back hem of Dolores’s dress was wet in the beginning scene with Bernarnold? Could this be post flood?
  • If Teddy had really wanted to be merciful, he would have just shot Phil alongside the security guy back in Sweetwater.
  • I’m glad Hanaryo went with Maeve, if only to see more interaction between her and Armistice. Plus, how cool is her western outfit?
  • What is Ghost Nation’s goal? They rescued humans and now appear to be looking for allies/fellow sentient hosts – but to what end?
  • I love that Emily is so well versed in the Ghost Nation culture that she can recognize if their weapons are authentic or not, especially when no one else seems to care about their storyline.
  • Did William lie to Emily to protect her…or to keep her from stopping his mission? We know Emily lied as well – she didn’t stumble into Westworld by chance, given her notebook with the map and Corporate Research Group symbol.
  • Since we don’t see Coughlin and his team in the “two weeks later” scenes with Strand, I’m pretty sure they’re toast.
  • Is CR4DL is only a clever way to write the word Cradle or is it an acronym for something? Maybe Creator Robert Ford Lives? If not, it should be.
  • I should have learned my lesson after Game of Thrones, but I actually believed the showrunners when they said Ford was dead and not coming back. Fool me once…

5 responses to “Analysis: Westworld Season 2 Episode 6 Recap, “Phase Space””

  1. Hey Vanessa,

    Great re-cap and thanks for telling me about this site! I love that CR4DL could be Creator Robert Ford Lives.

    Not only are aspect ratios different, but in different scenes Bernard has a scar and in others he does not.

    I do believe that Dolores is going to regret creating Evil Teddy even more as time goes on.

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  2. Thanks for a great recap, Vanessa. I was waiting to see what you guys would make of this episode. There are so many possibilities for what’s going on and who is really who, it’s fun to read all the theories. I didn’t notice Dolores’ dress, had forgotten about Emily’s notebook and couldn’t place in time when Coughlin was there, so you added that and a lot of other good stuff to the info.

    “Teddy remarks that he didn’t think he’d ever want to leave, but he supposes Dolores fixed that too. ” Teddy’s second remark about being “fixed”, much as one would refer to an animal that has been neutered, was the icing on the cake. He remembers what he was as nice Teddy, because the tech that changed him on Dolores’s order didn’t erase his prior memories. Moreover, imho, he obviously liked what he was, is bitter about it having been tampered with and angry with Dolores for doing it. Dolores is going to get some handy lessons about using a technology without knowing the finer points. The idea of “wiping” a host’s memories must have come from long experience by the technical teams. She’s making vast changes to personalities with zero experience. It’s already coming back to haunt her.

    I love Maeve, and Thandie Newton’s portrayal of her. In comparison with Dolores, Maeve is decidedly the wiser of the two. Does that mean more “human?” I think so, but whether being more human is going to do her any good remains to be seen. She has more resistance to spouting Ford’s line of bs than Dolores. She shuns the implanted ideas of revenge and I sincerely doubt she’s agree with the nonsense that human consciousness revolves around and/or depends upon suffering.

    I’ve watched this episode several times, and every time Dolores spouts that line about suffering, I want to throw something at the TV. This is purely my own opinion, but I think that the best of human consciousness arrives during good times in human existence. There would have been no cave drawings during hard times or times of war, such pursuits would be neither tolerated during those times, nor understood or accepted. Indeed, the “artistic” members of a tribe would probably have been shunned or killed as weak during hard times. Hmmm. There would certainly have been a need for medical care, but no time or tolerance to learn about herbs and their uses. It’s only during times of relative prosperity that human consciousness and progress really flourishes, and then comes back to serve us during time of suffering. Suffering isn’t the biggest catalyst for brain growth, happiness is. Again, my own opinions.

    You are right, the episode does offer a good contrast between the two women. Both Maeve and Dolores have had “good” times in their lives – Dolores has her memories of painting and being greeted by her father, Peter. Maeve has focused her life on memories of happiness and peace with her little daughter. It’s those memories that seem to be the biggest catalyst to each of them. But Dolores seems to be spouting something that’s been fed to her by Ford. The suffering line doesn’t seem to be something that Arnold would have taught her.

    Anyway, Vanessa, I too was fooled into believing Ford wasn’t coming back. Looking forward to more recaps and articles by you in what remains of the season.

    Just as a note, I wish there was a “quote” button available beneath the recap itself. There were a lot of quotes of yours I would have referred back to, just didn’t have the time to type them all.

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  3. Great recap again Vanessa– I’m still in analysis mode myself, as this episode filled me with questions. I’m gonna do my first re-watch tonight, so hopefully I’ll have some more inciteful contributions– or, more probable, inciteful questions– tomorrow.

    Great acronym analysis though! CR4DL… so clever if that is what they were going for!

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  4. Thank you all for the kind comments! Thronetender – love your insight. I agree with what you’re saying to a point, but I also want to add that suffering makes us appreciate the good times in life that much more. I think you ultimately need both to appreciate what it really means to be human. 🙂

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