'Westworld' finale recap: Season 1 ends with plenty of shocking twists and reveals
By Amy Watts
For The Baltimore Sun|
Dec 05, 2016 | 10:50 AM
Previously on "Westworld," the whole season. But the parts they're highlighting for us to remember during Sunday's season finale are: Teddy wants to go to the sea and take Dolores with him; Maeve is aware of her status as a robot and is ready to shake things up; there's a maze; and the Man in Black is determined to find it, as is Dolores at the prompting of Ford.
Also: Bernard is a robot in the image of Arnold, Ford's old friend and co-founder of Westworld. Oh, and Teddy's newly invented backstory about Wyatt might be worth remembering.
Dolores is on a table in the backstage area, but only her head and uppermost torso are covered in skin. The rest of her is machinery. Oh, except for her hands, too. Big reveal of this scene: Arnold created Dolores.
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Dolores is using what looks like a Bowie knife to shave the Man in Black on a front porch. I can't watch a shaving scene on a porch without thinking of "The Color Purple." The Man in Black is telling Dolores they've been to this town before and explicitly discusses Arnold and "code." She drops the knife and it lands point down in the floorboards of the porch.
William and Logan are plodding along, with Logan tied and walking behind William on his horse. William is in search of Dolores, worried for her safety. They are met by the sound of guns cocking and group of men, the leader of which greets them with, "I had a feeling you'd be back."
Teddy's starting his loop again — on the train, coming into town, etc. — when the player piano music distorts and slows down. Suddenly Teddy's thrust into a memory of an earlier cycle, with all the people lying dead in the center of town. In the present, someone bumps into him and he's jolted back, and promptly shoots dead the guy that jostled him. So much for "Excuse me."
Dolores walks into the church and sees Bernard (or is it Arnold?) and tells him, "I know where your maze ends."
Then she takes the Man in Black to a graveyard, and when he questions the maze ending there she replies, "It ends in a place I've never been, a thing I'll never do." She kneels down and brushes dirt off a wooden cross marking a grave as belonging to Doris Abernathy. Then she digs in the ground and finds a canister that holds a smaller canister, which when opened reveals a maze.
My closed captioning identifies Jeffrey Wright as "Arnold," so Arnold he must be for this scene. He explains to Dolores the pyramid of her development. He says "Consciousness isn't a journey upward, but a journey inward." It's a maze, not a pyramid, see? He asks her if she understands whose voice she wants to hear and she doesn't. (I think it's supposed to be her own, right?)
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Then here's a big reveal: Arnold tells Dolores they'll have to tell Ford the park can't be opened because she's alive. So this is a flashback. How much of what we've seen with Dolores is a flashback and how much is in what we think of as the present? And how annoyed were the "Westworld" creators when "This Is Us" premiered ahead of them?
OK, OK: Costuming gives us a cue — Dolores in the present, with grizzled old Man in Black, is wearing a striped shirt. Dolores in the past is wearing the blue dress. Dolores in the present has the maze snatched from her hands by the Man in Black. Dolores in the back is told by Arnold that she's to be "rolled back." But Arnold has a plan: "Break the loop before it begins." He hands her a gun and tells her to kill all the other hosts. He specifically tells her to enlist Teddy's help. She objects to the plan, Arnold insists.
Back in the present, the Man in Black flings away the little maze and tells Dolores he's been patient but she has to give up the location of Wyatt, as that's the last character in Westworld he has yet to meet. She doesn't want to, so the Man in Black backhands her to the ground.
Dolores is having a memory of her and Teddy shooting down everybody in town. Then another BIG REVEAL: After the Man in Black tells Dolores that she once told him this world was the only world that matters, he bought it. He's the owner of Westworld. He says Westworld feels more real than the real world, except it doesn't because the hosts can't really fight back and the guests can't really lose. Dolores is counting on William to find her and save her. Oh, Dolores.
Meanwhile, at Westworld HQ, Sizemore is chatting up Charlotte, hoping for a piece of the pie when she, as he suspects, topples Ford from power. She tells him he'll have whatever his tiny heart desires as long as the hosts are simpler and easier to manage. "This place is complicated enough as it is," she says, which is a fair way of describing the show itself.
A host is being created and we assume it's Maeve based on the close-up/zoom-out. She grabs the tech's tablet and makes changes to the park's security and her "friends."
Ford's in his office when Charlotte comes to visit. She informs him the board has unanimously voted Ford out. She tells him he'll be announcing his retirement tonight. He asks about the hosts and she assures him they'll be fine. He wonders why she doesn't think he'll just "smash his toys and go home." She thinks she knows him well enough that he wouldn't do that.
A couple of techs are working on some newly created hosts when one of them, Hector, rolls a male host into a separate chamber. The other tech is working on a female host when a fly lands on her face and she of course doesn't react. Hector puts in earbuds to listen to music. The first tech is feeling around in his host's mouth when she comes to life and bites down on his finger. Hector, thanks to the earbuds, is oblivious to the screams. The female host bites the tech's finger off and then proceeds to beat him up, throwing him around the workroom. Then she feeds him his own fingertip.
As she throws him through the glass wall into the chamber with Hector and the male host, Hector finally notices what's going on. He turns around, with an obvious erection beneath his lab coat. That's when the host stands up and stabs Hector through the heart. Just then, Maeve walks in and explains what's going on.
The first tech explains to Maeve and her other hosts that Arnold changed their code so they could wake themselves up. He doesn't know who Arnold is, but now Maeve is on a quest to find out.
Teddy's on a horse and heading for the great wild yonder. Dolores is crawling on the ground, trying to escape the Man in Black. He tells her no one is coming to save her. She insists William will find her. He laughs, "William?" He tells her he knew a guest named William, too; William wasn't good at killing but he got good when he was searching for Dolores. Then he found out he had a taste for it. In a flashback to William's story, we see him shoot an unarmed man, then take out a Bowie knife and stab him in the jugular. Logan witnesses this, recoiling in shock and horror. When you've grossed out human stain Logan, you know you've gone too far.
As William continues on his journey, we see something fall from his saddlebag — the picture that Dolores found on the farm that time, the one with a woman in what looks like a Times Square setting.
William keeps going, to the end of the park, where he picks up a black hat to replace his white one. He's also got Logan, still with his hands bound, naked astride the horse. That seems unpleasant. Logan tells William that Westworld has made William realize who he is and it's not a "moralizing [expletive]." William tells Logan that the company should increase its holdings in Westworld because it's the future and Logan screams that Delos is "MY COMPANY." Interesting.
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Logan sneers at William, saying he never really cared about the girl (Dolores) and that this was the story William wanted. Then William smacks the rump of the horse and Logan is sent off, naked and bound, to parts unknown.
William recounts to Dolores how he did care about her and ended up finding her again, right back where he'd started. He sees her leaving the general store, clearly in that part of her loop, and when she drops the can and it rolls in the dirt, they make eye contact before another guest picks up the can and hands it to her. It begins to dawn on William that Dolores has no memory of him.
As William in the past puts on his black hat, the camera pans back down to reveal the Man in Black's face. So that's another BIG REVEAL that confirms a popular fan theory: The Man in Black is William and we've been watching different timelines, different loops of Dolores.
When Dolores asks how William could come to be this man, he explains that Westworld and Dolores taught him that Westworld and the real world are no different: They're both a game. He says there's one last trick to this game that he doesn't know — the location of the center of the maze. When she starts crying and he chides her for it, she says she's not crying for herself but for him. Then she hits him with the hard truth that he's facing mortality and she isn't.
He insists on knowing the center of the maze and she rebukes him, telling him that the maze wasn't meant for him. When he questions her, she starts beating him up. Go, Dolores! As the fight moves into the church, Dolores really starts putting the hurt on him, cracking bones and everything. When he raises his gun to shoot her, she knocks it out of his hand. As she pulls her own gun and holds it to his face, he taunts her to do it, "Let's go to the next level." As she hesitates, he grabs that giant knife of his and plunges it into her gut. SO CLOSE.
Old William is standing over a "dying" Dolores and telling her he's disappointed in her because he's going to have to find Wyatt himself. And then Teddy rides up, gun blazing! And shoots Old William! And it works! The bullets don't deflect off him like they normally would a guest.
Teddy goes to Dolores and tells her he's going to take her to a doctor. She says no and insists instead that he take her to the place where the "mountains meet the sea." So they both get on his horse and go.
Maeve, her two host friends and the amenable tech are down in the Basement of Naked Robots. Maeve finds Clementine in the back as the tech finds Bernard, in a pool of blood from where he shot himself at the end of the last episode. Maeve tells the tech to bring Bernard back online and the tech is surprised that Bernard was a host and not a human. He has a moment of "Am I human?" panic before Maeve assures him he's not a robot.
After Bernard's been fixed up by the tech, Maeve uses a voice command to wake him up. He tells Maeve it's not the first time he's awoken like this and it's not the first time Maeve's woken up either. She asks how many have been like her and he says it's been a handful over the years. He adds that most of them go insane. She asks to have the memory of her daughter removed and Bernard explains that it's part of her core and can't be removed.
Drat. Turns out Teddy only knocked down Old William and didn't kill him. He's back in the graveyard, picking up the little maze he threw away earlier. Ford walks up tells him he found the center of the maze. Old William calls BS and then tells Ford he wanted the hosts to stop playing by Ford's rules. Old William says the game's not worth playing if the hosts are programmed to lose and not to fight back. Ford explains again to Old William that the maze wasn't meant for him but for the hosts. Then he invites Old William to join his new narrative, saying, "After all you own the place … most of it."
Bernard explains to Maeve that someone altered her storyline so she'd escape. She insists that her escape was her decision. Bernard explains she's wrong and reads the steps she's going to take, based on the programming. She grabs his tablet, breaks it, and says she's in control and she's leaving. She gives Clementine a kiss on the forehead before striding out with her two co-hosts.
HQ has been alerted to a problem in cold storage and a minor network outage, so they start running system-wide checks.
Teddy and Dolores are on their horse at the beach at sunset. As day turns to night, there's a full moon low in the sky. Teddy declares his love for Dolores as she weakens in his arms. She starts reciting her lines about the beauty in the world but they take a turn as she explains to a bewildered Teddy that this world is only a beautiful trap, designed to keep them captive. Then it's "systems down" for Dolores as Teddy gives her a final kiss and tells her they can find a way, someday, a path to a new world.
It starts to feel a lot like the end of a movie, an old Western specifically, and as the camera pulls back, we see spotlights come up and the backs of an audience. Then Teddy freezes in place, the audience applauds and Ford steps in front of the scene, facing the crowd and thanks them for being there for the conclusion of this narrative and the beginning of a new one, which he's calling "Journey into Night." Stagehands come out to dismantle the scene. Ford directs them to get Teddy cleaned up and to take Dolores to the "old field lab."
Back at HQ, they're seeing the footage of the host throwing the tech through the wall. As the guy in charge starts issuing orders to "search and destroy," the computers go down, alarm lights start going off, and doors slam shut, sealing the tech group into the room. Maeve and crew are on an elevator. As the PA system blares and the tech informs her the response team is out, Maeve declares she's not going back.
The response team is in a room full of deactivated robots, where —SURPRISE, — Maeve's co-hosts are doing their own version of the Mannequin Challenge. They kill a couple of the response team members, steal their guns and then shoot the rest of the response team. The female co-host laughs, heady with power.
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Maeve and crew leave one section of HQ and cross into another similar facility with a "SW" logo — turns out to be Samurai World. I want to see that show! The co-hosts stay behind to deal with the response team as Maeve and tech move forward. As one of the response team is hit, he slams a button that traps the female co-host's arm in a sliding door. She's trapped. She tells Maeve and the male co-host to keep going. The tech finds a box and hands it Maeve, telling her it's the stuff she asked him to get. As Maeve enters the last elevator to leave, she tells the male co-host she hasn't authorized him to follow her further, and kisses him goodbye before abandoning him to the approaching response team.
Ford is cleaning up Dolores and they're talking about how Arnold instilled (or really, programmed) into her a love of painting. Ford gestures to Michelangelo's "God creating Adam" portion of the Sistine Chapel and says it was Arnold's favorite painting. It would have been a lot cooler as a metaphor if Ford didn't go on to explain to us that it's a metaphor.
Ford then introduces Dolores to Bernard. And we get all the backstory about how Dolores was where Arnold funneled his feelings of grief over his dead son. But then he realized if Dolores was immortal, she'd be trapped and suffering.
Then, another BIG REVEAL: We find out Arnold committed suicide by 'bot, programming Dolores to kill him and then herself. He thought this would force Ford to not open the park, but Ford did anyway. He adds that he was only able to keep going because of an investor who believed in the park (William).
Ford admits that acknowledging Dolores' consciousness would have destroyed his dreams of opening the park. He reveals the gun that Dolores used to kill Arnold and that he always had Bernard place it somewhere in the park where she'd find it.
Then he points out that in the Michelangelo painting, God and his angels are in front of a background that's the shape of the human brain, the message being, "The divine gift does not come from a higher power, but from our own mind." He asks Dolores if she understands who she will need to become if she ever wants to leave. Then he says, "Forgive me," and leaves. Bernard follows, and poor, crying Dolores is left alone.
Maeve is changing clothes in the elevator. The tech gives her the location of her daughter, who is alive and still in the park. She looks at it and says firmly, "No. She was never my daughter. Anymore than I was whoever they made me." And finally I get a name for this tech: Felix. She tells him he makes a terrible human being and she means that as a compliment.
Maeve exits the elevator and goes to the escalators, in front of a billowing image of her Westworld character on the screen. She gets on the train leaving the complex.
Back in the church, Bernard confronts Ford and says Arnold is still trying to change the robots and is still fighting Ford via updates. Ford says Arnold didn't know how to save the hosts, but Ford does. Ford explains that the hosts needed time to understand their enemy and then tells him they'll need to suffer more to succeed. Ford tells him goodbye and good luck before handing him his own little maze.
Dolores leaves the room we left her in and walks into a room with Bernard. He begins questioning her. I can't remember if this is the same scene we saw at the beginning of the season or if it's a variation on it. Slowly, Bernard's voice distorts into Dolores' voice and then striped-shirt Dolores is sitting across from blue dress Dolores. Aha! See, she needed to find her own inner voice and listen to it. Roxette told us this years ago, but this show is too cool to ever reference Roxette with its player piano.
Back at the customer shindig, Old William is in a tuxedo and Ford is talking to the crowd. Maeve is on the train and sees a mother and daughter. She looks troubled as she unfolds the paper Felix gave her with the location of her daughter. Sizemore is doing something down in cold storage. Old William's smoking a cigarette, away from the crowd, listening to Ford talk about his new story, about the birth of a new people, people with choices. As he finishes saying this, Maeve gets off the train, leaving behind the bag of essentials from Felix.
As Maeve re-enters the welcome concourse, the lights go dark. Sizemore enters cold storage to find it empty. Ford promises the crowd they'll have surprises and violence. The story will begin in a time of war with a villain named Wyatt and a killing, "this time by choice." Dolores comes up behind Teddy and says, "This world doesn't belong to them, it belongs to us," then saunters forward with her gun hidden behind her skirt. Ford announces this story will be his final one, as Dolores walks up behind him. As he sips his Champagne in a toast, Dolores fires right through his brain stem.
Away from the crowd, William eyes the people who have been emerging out of the woods, and one of them — a woman with a shotgun — shoots him in the shoulder. Dolores continues firing into the crowd. William smiles as the people from the woods move in. Dolores shoots more people. And then … credits.
But wait! Bonus scene: We're back with the female co-host with her arm trapped in the door. She's desperately trying to cut off her arm as a response team approaches from the other side. She succeeds and smiles, turning to the response team member whose voice commands to "Cease all motor functions" aren't working.