Westworld Season Finale Recap: The Bicameral Mind
Let’s start with Maeve’s story in the episode. Her story seems oddly shoehorned into HBO‘s Westworld season finale. Sylvester and Felix have built her a human skeleton, instead of the carbon fiber frame she had before. Maeve wakes, and she assures him she is all there. She takes the tablet and makes some adjustments to park security and her friends’ programming. Most notably, she turns down their pain and up their aggression.
Armistice and Hector are being put together by a tech. Another tech comes in and takes Hector to an adjoining room to have sex with him. He puts in some earbuds and lubes up, which means he doesn’t notice when Armistice wakes when her tech is working on her teeth. She bites down on his fingertip, beats the hell out of him, and shoves his own finger down his throat. The other tech doesn’t notice until Armistice sends her tech flying through the glass window. Lube tech tries to freeze Armistice’s motor functions, but it doesn’t work. Hector springs to life behind him and stabs him to death. Maeve strolls in with Felix and Sylvester, unbothered by the pools of blood. The humans are freaked out by the murder and Maeve threatens to send Armistice after Sylvester if he moves. In fear, he gives up one crucial piece of information: someone else was accessing her code, someone named Arnold. Maeve is determined to find someone who knows who Arnold is.
Maeve takes her posse to cold storage. In the back, they find Bernard, dead. She makes Felix fix him, get him back online. Felix is stunned – he didn’t know he was a host. Bernard wakes, unsure if this is “now” or “one of the memories.” He still remembers everything, and this is not the first time he, or Maeve, have woken up. Bernard says there have been a handful of others “like her” over the years. Most of them go insane. She asks him to remove her memories of her daughter, but he can’t without destroying her. Those are the first steps to Maeve’s consciousness. She asks who has been altering her code. Bernard checks and tells her someone has altered her storyline to make her escape. She insists these are her own decisions, even when Bernard traces each step she has taken. Maeve cracks the tablet and insists she is in control.
Maeve’s crew continues through the building when alarms go off. Security rolls in, and Hector and Armistice turn into killing machines. Armistice’s arm gets caught in an electric door, so she stays back while Maeve, Felix, and Hector continue on (there’s an extra scene after the credits in which Armistice cuts herself free). Hector kills anyone who looks at him funny, and Felix gives Maeve a care package she requested. They get to the elevator, but Hector stops at the door. She programmed him to be unable to leave the facility. He doesn’t seem too upset, and the elevator doors close to a chorus of machine guns. On the elevator out, Felix gives Maeve her daughter’s location. She is still in the park, reassigned to another storyline. Maeve takes the paper, but she declines to go looking for her. She is dead-set on getting out of Westworld. “She was never my daughter.” Maeve exits through the lobby, down the escalator, and onto a train, leaving the station. In 15 minutes she will be far from Westworld. While she waits, she sees a mother and daughter snuggling together. It is more than she can take, and just before the train takes off, she gets off. No sooner is she back on the platform than all power shuts off.
On to the main story: Dolores. Teddy and William, separately, are still trying to find their beloved. Dolores is shaving the Man in Black, while he waxes on about how “fitting” it is that she is the one who will take him to the center of the maze. They are in the town with the church, and he mentions that she brought him there once. Dolores “remembers” the church bells ringing, people are milling about, and Bernard/Arnold is there. She walks towards him, in a trance. In the church, she meets with Arnold, and knows where his maze ends. In reality, she is with the Man in Black, and leads him out to the church graveyard. The maze “ends in a place I’ve never been, a thing I’ll never do.” She sits on her own grave and digs. Beneath the dirt is a tin can, and in the can is a maze toy. She remembers being back with Arnold, who tells her that he had a theory on consciousness, that it was a pyramid built on memory and improvisation that she had to climb. She never got to the third tier. One day, Arnold realized consciousness wasn’t a journey upward, but inward, like a maze. Every choice can send you towards the center, or spiraling out. She doesn’t quite understand, but that’s okay. Arnold tells her they can’t open the park. “You’re alive.”
Back with the Man in Black, he grabs the maze and asks what it means. She had the answer once, and said they would set her free. Slipping back into a reverie, Arnold apologizes to Dolores, explaining Ford wants to roll them back. He worries that they will be seen as the enemy, and he wants to “break the loop before it begins.” He needs her to kill all the other hosts and suggests Teddy do it with her. He puts a gun in her hand.
The Man in Black interrupts her reverie again, demanding to know what is in her head. She is crying as she remembers, and insists she didn’t want to. The Man in Black hits her, and she sees Teddy shooting everyone in town. Dolores tells the Man in Black the world doesn’t belong to him, but he insists it does – he bought this world, owns a majority share. “This place feels more like the real world than the real world, but hosts can’t fight back and guests can’t lose. Don’t you want that? Something true?” Dolores insists that when William finds them, he will kill the Man in Black. She cries as she tries to crawl away, insisting that he will find her, he will take her away, his love is real. “William will find me.” The Man in Black laughs. “You do remember something.” He knew a guest named William.
The Man in Black then launches into a story, one he narrates over William’s actions… one that most of the internet had already guessed. William wasn’t much for killing at first, but along the way he found he had a taste for it. William sits in a Confederado camp, everyone dead except for Logan, and one terrified young soldier. He demands to know where she is. The soldier doesn’t know but when he last saw Dolores, she was alive. William shoots him, then stabs him in the neck, which freaks Logan out. William continues on, Logan still his prisoner. The photo of his fiancée slips from his pocket. William went to the fringes of Westworld, the Man in Black explains, but he couldn’t find you. “What he did find was himself.” William takes a black cowboy hat off one of the dead. Logan is naked, tied to a horse, and William puts a large black feather in his hand. William tells Logan that this place is the future, and will make sure that “our” company takes over. “Your dad will want someone more stable running the country,” William said. Logan realizes that William never gave a sh*t about the girl; she was just an excuse to find the story he wanted. William slaps the horse, and it runs off into the desert.
The Man in Black continues, explaining that Logan was wrong. William couldn’t get Dolores out of his head and he kept looking. Eventually “we” found her, right back where we started. William is dressed all in black, looking a little rougher that he did in earlier scenes. He is in Sweetwater and is overwhelmed when he sees Dolores walk by, sweetly unaware of him. He smiles and starts to approach her when her can falls. Another man helps her out, and William is crestfallen as he realizes that whatever he thought was true no longer was.
The Man in Black – or the “current” William – thanks Dolores for helping him find himself. She finally puts the pieces together, and he tells her she was right: his path always led him back to her. “I grew tired of you eventually,” he says casually. She was lost in her memories, and that is all he would become to her: another memory. Then he goes back to his obsession: the maze. He needs to know where the center of the maze is. She cries, but she is not crying for herself; she is crying for the Man in Black. “One day you will perish, and a new god will walk the earth, one that won’t die. This world belongs to someone who is yet to come.” The Man in Black wants to be taken to Wyatt, the last piece of the puzzle, the key to unlocking the maze. She tells the Man in Black that the maze wasn’t meant for him, and beats him up. She drags him into the church, throws him out the door, and stands over him, holding her gun to him. He taunts her to shoot, go to the next level. She doesn’t, and the Man in Black stabs her. He is disappointed in her, and will have to find Wyatt himself. Teddy comes riding in and shoots the Man in Black down, then rushes to Dolores. He wants to take her to a doctor, but she just wants to go to the place he promised her, where the mountains meet the sea. He puts her on his horse and they ride off.
The Man in Black is not dead. He plays with the maze toy when Ford approaches him. “I see you’ve found the center of the maze,” he says to the Man in Black. “You were looking for the park to give meaning to your life.” The Man in Black wanted the hosts to be free to fight back; “I should have known you’d never let them.” Ford tells him the maze wasn’t for him; it was for the hosts, and encourages him to join the festivities. The board is coming in to view Ford’s new narrative. Earlier, Charlotte had paid Ford a visit to tell him that the board unanimously voted him out, and expects him to announce his retirement tonight at the gala. Ford had been oddly sanguine about the whole thing…
It is night when Teddy and Dolores make it to the beach. He lays her down in the sand and wishes he had run away with her when she first wanted to. “We’re trapped,” Dolores says. “We lived our whole lives here, not realizing there is an order, a purpose, to keep us in.” She dies, and Teddy sobs. He kisses her and holds her close, promising to someday find a path to a new world. “Maybe it’s just the beginning after all.” Lights come up, and the camera pulls back to reveal that this is the end of Ford’s narrative, one he calls “Journey into Night.” The crowd seems to approve. As the spectators file out to the gala, Ford tells his techs to clean up Teddy, and to take Dolores to the old field lab.
While the guests take turns shooting apples off the heads of hosts, and other such games, Ford heals up Dolores’ wounds. Bernard joins them, and Dolores thinks it is Arnold. Ford introduces him as Bernard, and thought it best to keep the two of them separated. Bernard accuses Ford of killing Arnold, but Ford didn’t do it. Dolores sobs – she remembers.
In another flashback, we see Arnold with Dolores. The reveries was his way of creating a test of empathy. They passed, and Arnold didn’t want to open the park. So he altered Dolores with the Wyatt narrative in the hopes of preventing the park from opening. Dolores is Wyatt. Dolores and Teddy killed everyone. Everyone, including himself. What Arnold lost in his son, he found in Dolores, so it seemed only fitting that Dolores send him to his son. He is the general that “Wyatt” shot in the street. “These violent delights have violent ends,” he says before Dolores shoots him. Then she shoots Teddy. Finally, herself. Arnold’s plot almost worked. Ford lost his partner but was able to open the park after he found an investor. He assures a distraught Dolores that it wasn’t really her decision to pull the trigger; Arnold did it for her. At least, that’s what Ford thought. Ford’s mistakes have taken 35 years to correct. He has the gun Dolores used to kill Arnold. “Do you know who you need to become to leave this place? Forgive me.” Ford leaves.
Dolores seems to have a hard time processing all this. She goes in for another sit-down with Arnold. She knows she is in a dream, but doesn’t know when it began or whose it is. Arnold asks her whose voice has she been hearing. Sitting across from her now is her prairie dress-wearing self. “It was you, guiding me, leading me to the center of the maze,” Dolores says to her more innocent self. “I finally understand what you were trying to tell me: to confront myself and who I must become.”
Ford addresses the gala, talking about how he has loved stories since he was a child, believing they help us become the people we dream of being. But those stories couldn’t change humans. He composed a new story, the birth of a people and the decisions they would make, the people they would decide to become. “It begins with a villain named Wyatt,” he says, and a killing done by choice. “This will be my final story,” he says, and Charlotte smiles, assuming he is about to announce his retirement.
Dolores comes into the gala and hugs Teddy. “It’s going to be all right. I understand. The world doesn’t belong to them; it belongs to us,” she says, then heads to Ford. The gun he left for her is clutched behind her back. She marches onto stage, behind Ford, and shoots him in the back of the head. The guests at the gala begin to run, but Dolores remains on stage, shooting as many as she can.
But that is not where the story ends. Charlotte has been teasing Lee all episode that once Ford is gone, there may be a chance for a huge promotion. This seems to be a way to manipulate him into doing what she wants. She sends him to get to work as the gala begins. His work required him to go down to cold storage and presumably take out the retired hosts and put them back into rotation. But when Lee gets there, he discovers the cold storage unit is completely empty.
At the gala, the Man in Black hears a rustling in the woods. He takes a few steps closer, and is confronted by a raging army of cold storage hosts. They shoot him and rush forward.