REVIEW: Westworld – S2 Ep9 – Vanishing Point

Westworld, S2 Ep9 - Vanishing Point

The penultimate episode of the second season of Westworld explored the tragic fates of those dear to both Dolores and the Man in Black while Ford continued to pull the strings in some surprising ways.

Westworld, S2 Ep9 - Vanishing PointAs previously reported, this episode would focus a great deal on the life of William, the Man in Black, in the real world, where he is known as a rags-to-riches success story, the heir to the Delos riches, and a businessman beyond compare. His reputation is also squeaky clean, as opposed to his ruthless but authentic persona when he is a guest of the park. We already knew about his wife’s suicide and this episode brought us back to that fateful night, introducing us briefly to Juliet and establishing the strained relationship she had with her husband and daughter, and showing the events that led up to her dying of overdose while soaking in a bath. Juliet had a drinking problem, one that seemed to consistently disappoint Emily who witnessed in embarrassment as her mother grew tipsy during a dinner party.

Westworld, S2 Ep9 - Vanishing PointBut Juliet blames William for her state of confusion and despair, claiming to see right through his facade of respectability and into his dark soul. She’s not wrong, but it’s clear that William has been gaslighting her all this time, playing the part of the devoted and understanding husband while she drowns her sorrows in drink and drugs. As she lies seemingly asleep, he does confess that to his darkness and underlying evil. Earlier that evening, Ford mysteriously hands him a copy of his digital profile which he carelessly leaves in his wife’s room. She opens the file and witnesses with horror the “true” nature of her husband, confirming all her worst suspicions about him. But she also loses hope because she knows that even if she attempts to expose him, no one would believe her. So she decides to just end things.

Westworld, S2 Ep9 - Vanishing PointWilliam is so obsessed with his mission that he doubts even the evidence of his own eyes. He never believes that it is truly his daughter who saved him from the Ghost Nation. Even after all their conversations, he is still convinced that she is a host sent by Ford to torment him. He murders a security team sent to rescue them and when his daughter tries to prove that she is real, he does not give her a chance and simply shoots her too. He later realizes his error but it is too late. He led his wife to her death and literally murdered his own child. At one point he even tries to cut into his arm to check if he is a host too and if his actions were really his own and not part of some programming. Fortunately, Westworld offers him no comfort and he has to face the brutal consequences of the disturbing choices he has made with his life. The losses he suffers are his own fault as he manipulated and alienated his family because of his obsession with his dark side in Westworld.

This tragedy is paralleled with Dolores, who was so obsessed with her own quest for freedom and vengeance that she manipulated and forcibly altered Teddy’s personality. What is more painful is that Teddy has been aware of this change all along but has been powerless to stop himself from becoming a murderous monster. But in one act of free will, he bids goodbye to Dolores and shoots himself after admitting that he can no longer protect her from what she has become. And even the Deathbringer falls to her knees in mourning when she realizes she has driven away the only person she truly cared about other than her father. She will make it to the end of her mission, most likely, but she has had to pay a heavy price along the way.

(I don’t for a moment believe that the scanners for the guests were in the hats. Not every guest wears a hat and even those that do certainly do not wear them all the time. I think it was more a sick joke on William’s part because of his own hat-fetish.)

The rest of the episode dealt with Bernard fighting against Ford’s influence, staunchly refusing to kill Elsie even after Ford tries to convince him that she would betray him. He leaves her in the safety of the park while he drives away. She’s upset but, honestly, she’s better off that way. Bernard seems to have gotten rid of Ford for good but not before they pay a quick visit to Maeve.

The technicians found a way to transfer her powerful code to Clementine and to make the latter control other hosts, inciting them to violence. Poor Clementine has become a new weapon for Delos to unleash on the other hosts while Maeve is left to rot. Ford appears to her through Bernard and we learn that, while Dolores had always been Arnold’s favorite, Maeve was Ford’s. And it makes a lot of sense. Maeve was always special and she possessed the same cunning and practicality that is so characteristic of Ford. But even if she had been given the skills to escape Westworld, she still chooses the love she had for her child. And it is Ford’s love for her that gives her another chance to break free.

The main players are making their way to the Valley Beyond and to their destiny. It’s been a rough and bloody road on Westworld so we’ll see who among the hosts and humans will be left standing.

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