Westworld Post Mortem of “The Passenger”

Dolores Westworld

Alas, the second season of Westworld is at an end…and what a mind blowing end it was! As everyone converged on the Valley Beyond, some hosts escaped to paradise, some to the real world, and many others died – perhaps to be born again? There were also tragic human deaths (RIP Lee and Elsie) and others not so tragic (good riddance Charlotte, Strand, and sadistic tech guy whose name no one bothered to learn). While we try to recover from the finale and begin the long wait for news of season three, let’s take a deeper look at “The Passenger” with new interviews and videos!

William and James Delos Westworld

Still feeling confused about the different timelines in the finale (and season two as a whole)? You’re not alone! Jimmi Simpson (William) admits to The Hollywood Reporter that he had trouble keeping it straight as well. “Even as Lisa Joy was explaining this season to me, she sat me down for breakfast. That’s how amazing she is. I was like, ‘I’m a little lost.’ She said, ‘Are you free tomorrow at eight? We’ll meet at this breakfast place and I’ll tell you everything.’ And I did, and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ It’s just mind-blowing.” He adds, “It’s kind of like when you watch the show. All the information is there, you might not be connecting the synapses.”

Discussing his character’s arc this season, Simpson believes that William doesn’t always make rational choices. “William doesn’t even know what’s next, because William is making huge, huge decisions based on his emotional reality, which is temporary. And so he’s making these choices and he doesn’t even know what he’s doing, in my opinion,” he says. “He’s always searching for immortality, but in regards to the park, I feel like William’s emotions have led him to start making decisions that are dubious.”

Watch the entire interview below.

Logan and James Delos Westworld

Another character who made a comeback for season two was Logan (Ben Barnes), the son of Delos founder James Delos (Peter Mullan) and the initial investor in the park. We see Logan in flashbacks as well as in the Forge, where he represents the system itself. Barnes explains why in an interview with Thrillist. “The System was obviously designed by his father’s company before his father’s real death, and that’s why the System takes the form of Logan, because his son was his core drive by the time he died. And so [the showrunners] wanted enough of old, real Logan, not the fun park Logan…mixed with a sort of grace and sort of confident expository knowledge of a godlike, all-knowing creature who had studied millions of years worth of data about human consciousness.”

Barnes has considerable sympathy for the “real” Logan. “Delos seems like an unloving father. But…in the end, he really does love him. He really does care. But he’s incapable of showing it. And Logan, all he wants is for his father to be proud of him. All he wants is his father to show him that he cares somehow.” Barnes believes Logan’s behavior masks his true character. “I think Logan is just a bit more sensitive in the end, and I think the way he acts in the park is an escape, and a front. The way William acts in the park is more true to his core, where Logan is actually compensating for a depression – a deep, deep unhappiness – and feeling very alone.”

Will we see Logan again? Barnes isn’t sure, but he has a suggestion for a way he could make an appearance. “Maybe we can go back before they even go to the park?” It seems unlikely, but flashbacks are always a possibility on Westworld. It would certainly be interesting to explore more of Logan and William’s relationship in season three.

Read more here.

Elsie Westworld

Another human we may not see again is Elsie, whose death in the finale was quite a shock. Fans were worried we had seen the last of her in season one – when Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) attacked her on Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) orders – only to learn she survived. Shannon Woodward confesses to Vanity Fair that there is no ambiguity this time however, saying, “Human Elsie is dead.” Human Elsie maybe, but perhaps Bernard will create an Elsie bot assistant in season three? We can only hope!

Woodward also shares her feelings about loyalty and the complex nature of the characters on Westworld. “What’s great about this show is that every time you think you’re on someone’s side, someone else makes a better argument for what they’re doing mattering and needing attention. As much as we’re watching thinking, ‘I’m Team Bernard,’ that might change in five minutes, and I assume it will. That’s something that I always found really compelling about this narrative that they’ve constructed. It’s deeply human to want to assign these narratives or rules to people where someone is right, someone is the hero, someone is the villain, someone is the love interest. And that’s just not how the real world is.”

Check out the rest at Vanity Fair.

Bernard and Dolores Westworld

Speaking of Bernard, Jeffrey Wright shares his thoughts about his character and season two as a whole with The New York Times. Bernard had a complicated storyline this year, confusing many fans. Wright believes it shouldn’t have been that difficult to figure out though. “I do think that some folks have confused themselves, more than they might have. The multiple timelines are pretty clearly delineated at the beginning of season two, and I think that the show does require a familiarity with what’s come prior, so I do not recommend diving in without having gone through the cumulative exercise of understanding narrative. But right now, I’m all for those things that challenge us to think. I do find it curious that certain folks would ask us to be simpler at this time in our American cultural lives. I find that weird.”

Besides the complex narrative, Wright wanted to understand Bernard’s motivations before filming began. “As we got rolling into the season, we did start having conversations about more core ideas…of agency, self-determination, of creating himself in his own image, of freedom. That, in many ways, was the larger question that he was wrestling with. I mean, it really is about this patriarchal hierarchy that existed between him and Ford. That’s been his host’s life’s purpose. And when he’s finally able to shatter that, when he rejects Ford and heads out into the desert on his own, that’s where it begins.”

When asked what happened to Peter Abernathy’s (Louis Herthum) pearl containing all the guest data from the park, Wright teased it’s location. “Well, I think it’s pretty clear what Dolores had swapped it with. As for the guest data, I think it’s pretty clear where that might be, too!” Dolores swapped the Abernathy pearl for Teddy’s pearl just before putting Teddy into the Sublime and sending it to a hidden location, so she likely has the Abernathy pearl in her purse. As for what’s in store for Dolores and Bernard, Wright can only guess. “[They] have been observers throughout their time within the park – and what they do with those observations, these are questions that remain to be answered. What comes next will be interesting. That’s the big question.”

For more of Wright’s thoughts on Bernard and the finale, head to The New York Times


Many fans were confused by the post credits scene, in which William (Ed Harris) appears to be a host being tested for fidelity by a host version of his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers). Herbers explains her interpretation of that scene to Insider. She says that when she read the script for that scene, “I really questioned the nature of my reality. I questioned everything in retrospect for a second.”

“I was very confused, but from my understanding, everything that happened between the Man in Black and [Emily] prior was real, and he did kill me.” The William and Emily we see in the park during the season are both human, and the post credits scene takes place in a much later time period according to Herbers. “Here we are sometime in the far, far future where I am a host and I’m not entirely sure what the Man in Black is. He might be some other thing entirely.”

Will we see Emily again? It’s definitely possible. “I don’t know if I’m going to be back, but I’d be very happy to, obviously. But nobody’s told me anything about that. I guess if I were to come back, this version that we’ve now seen in [the finale] would probably be one of the versions of Emily that we would see. But the possibilities are endless. We could also go back in time.”

Read the entire interview here.

William Westworld

Do you need further enlightenment about that William and Emily scene? Episode director Frederick E.O. Toye explains it in more depth over at Vanity Fair. “We return to the facility [the Forge] that we’ve seen, and it’s destroyed now. It’s covered with sand, and it looks like a lot of time has passed and all of that. That’s all part of establishing that timeline.” He also confirms that it’s really happening and is not a simulation. “It’s in reality. It’s real.”

William killing Emily is the defining decision in his life according to Toye, much like James Delos’ rejection of Logan is for him. He suggests that William has made himself a host to discover if he can change himself enough to stop that moment from happening. William is in an eternal loop of his last visit to the park. This seems to give Ford’s instruction about “The Door” game (“it begins where you end and ends where you began”) a bit more meaning.

Toye feels there is one moment in particular which is crucial to the scene. “The moment where [Emily] asks him, ‘What did you expect to find here?’ I just always felt like that moment was the moment we’ve been waiting for for 22 hours of storytelling. To hear [William] tell you what his intent was. It’s so beautifully executed by [Ed Harris]. He plays this duality of shame, acceptance, and confusion about how he got here. He had assumed that he was going to become a virtual simulation, and I think that it threw him for a loop to understand that there’s more to it than that. And I think that scene will fuck with people.”

At what point during the episode does the timeline switch from the present to this future? Toye gives his best guess, saying, “I think that it’s up to interpretation as to when you think the storytelling switches from the reality in Timeline Two to the reality in Timeline Three. I always took it – and maybe Jonah [Nolan] would say something different – but I always took it as that moment when he wakes up after his hand being blown off, [that’s] when the storytelling switches timelines. I am positive that Jonah and Lisa [Joy] have a very specific idea about that one.”

The entire interview is available here.

Sublime Westworld

Showrunner Jonanthan Nolan discusses the finale, and hints at what’s next, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Regarding who will be back next year and who won’t, Nolan declines to confirm. “We’ve had some interesting conversations. It’s a large ensemble cast and sadly we’re saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season. But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn’t is something we’re having a lot of fun with. There’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season, but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress.” He clarifies that they haven’t decided when season three will begin; it could be late 2019 or sometime in 2020.

When asked if the hosts who made it to the Sublime are good from the show for good, Nolan replies, “I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so…yeah.” He adds, “We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there.” Nolan even teases we may see the three other parks at some point, saying, “Not all of our favorite characters have managed to escape yet, so…”

Nolan doesn’t rule out Elsie’s return either, as he explains, “Shannon Woodward is a phenomenal actor and lovely person, and we had a fantastic experience working with her and would relish the opportunity to work with her again. This show is about mortality and immortality and there’s never any real saying goodbye. Elsie’s story through the season underlines the challenges for the hosts – even if they find allies among the humans, they’re still speaking to each other across this great divide.” He adds, “The challenge for the hosts is that when dealing with humanity – even if somebody like Elsie is sympathetic for Bernard – they’re fundamentally different. Elsie, in this case, has underestimated the cravenness of her fellow humans.” Well, she certainly underestimated Charlotte anyway.

Head to EW for more on Nolan’s thoughts about season two, and where the show is headed in the years to come.

Ford and Bernard Westworld

Speaking to TheWrap, showrunner Lisa Joy talks about why they had to say goodbye to some characters in season two. “In embarking on this season we knew, in a sense, we’d be telling a story of revolution, of war and the tragedy and inevitability of war is death. There are stakes to violence and it is mortality. And I love all of our actors…and it truly is harrowing to lose any of them. But, you know, it’s in the service of the story,” she explains. “And so for the drama to have stakes, the deaths must be real.”

One character who didn’t die was Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who Joy confirms is a host. “We don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all his talk, his knowing talk about, ‘I’ve been at the park a very long time,’ and Ford designed him with certain core drives…it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass,” she reveals. “And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park, and you have a whole master plan about helping robots, that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance?”

On the topic of Ford, Joy admits he is gone for good, saying “Yes, Ford is gone. And yeah, I think it’s really – it’s interesting, because remember how in the first season with Dolores, in trying to come to consciousness she would hear Arnold’s voice while doing these things? And part of her embracing her agency and consciousness is realizing, ‘There is that voice. That’s not necessarily yours, that’s my voice. That’s my inner voice. And I have to achieve my own inner voice and inner instincts.’ And embracing that voice is what brought her to full personhood.” They did say Ford was gone after season one too, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.

Joy also discusses some of the themes of season two – as well as the meaning of that post credits scene – so read the rest over at TheWrap.

HBO has released two behind the scenes videos this week. In the first, showrunners Joy and Nolan – along with several cast and crew – break down the events that occur in the Valley Beyond.

In the second video, Co-Executive Producer and Director Toye shares some of the differences between directing season one and two.

Finally, the British Film Institute has released a video of their Q & A session with Nolan and Joy, which took place on June 19th after an early screening of the finale in London. Check it out below.

5 responses to “Westworld Post Mortem of “The Passenger””

  1. Come on!! I really don’t like it that Elsie died. We finally got her back and now she’s dead! Again!

      Quote  Reply

  2. The Wolves of Winter,

    Human Elsie is dead… can we still hope that Bernard will create a host Elsie? I will!

    And a host Sizemore at that. He finally redeems himself only to be killed… I want more of this newly developed Sizemore!

      Quote  Reply

  3. As if there wasn’t already enough to love about “Westworld,” it actually got even better in the post-credits sequence!

    I didn’t take that final scene of William and Emily literally. Previously, we had seen Old William getting his wounds treated on the beach, presumably prior to getting evacuated. We also saw the corpse of his daughter lying there. I took the scene to mean that while William may be bodily repatriated to The Mainland, his mind will be forever trapped in the ruins of Westworld, endlessly searching for an outcome where he didn’t pull the trigger with his daughter downrange. But he’s not a host with loops; he’s a human being whose life has a beginning, middle, and end, and his life, like every human’s life, is defined by the decisions he and others have made. He can’t un-shoot that gun, he can’t un-kill his daughter, he can’t wake up tomorrow with last night’s events erased from his immediate consciousness, like his first true love did for all of those years after their trainload of adventure together. But he’ll keep trying and trying and trying…

      Quote  Reply

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