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'Westworld' recap: 'Reunion' gives us some backstory into park's origins

For The Baltimore Sun

Bring yourselves back online, my friends. I’m taking a busman’s holiday of sorts from recapping “This Is Us” to recap the, er, challenging “Westworld.”

Y’all want to hear something hilarious? I thought the different time periods in “This Is Us” were difficult to manage. HAHAHAHAHA hoo boy, I crack myself up.

As per usual with this complicated, tightly packed show, there is a LOT to cover here. So hitch your horses, grab some whiskey and let’s analyze “Reunion.”

The Dog and Pony Show

Sometime before the death of Arnold’s son, Arnold and Ford take Dolores and a few of her friends into the real world. She’s impressive, for a host — but Arnold reluctantly concludes she’s not quite ready yet.

Quick aside: This stunned me. Seeing Dolores in modern dress, gobsmacked over the nighttime cityscape before her — it all felt off somehow.

But of course they’d do this to secure investment funding! Such an amazing invention as the host has to be seen to be fully appreciated, right?

Which brings us to Logan.

Hey! It’s Logan! The last we saw of Logan he was buck-naked, tied to a horse galloping over the farthest expanses of the park, presumably about to go stark-raving mad. But here he’s pre-breakdown Logan, the douchebro-iest of all the douchebros, bragging about his multimillion-dollar art collection (hung on the bedroom ceiling, of course, so it can be appreciated during, uh, intimate activities).

A couple introduces themselves as his next meeting, and of course they’re hosts. We recognize one of them as Angela, the often-repurposed host who first greets young William to the park. That’s just the appetizer, though, since they’ve prepared a private demonstration to Logan (whose last name is Delos, imagine that!) of this incredible host technology. They take him to a party and he quickly figures out one of the guests is a host, so he sets about trying to figure out who. He promptly settles on Angela.

Psych, Logan. The correct answer is: everyone in the room except for you.

This turn of events properly impresses Logan, and the next time we see him, he’s passed out in bed surrounded by a number of hosts in various states of undress, including Angela. Dolores peeks in, and she and Angela exchange what could be a meaningful look. Or it could be entirely meaningless. But knowing this show, I’m going with option A.

Sometime After the Dog and Pony Show

Young William takes his new father-in-law, James Delos (played to perfection with his native Scottish accent by Peter Mullan) to the park.

William gives Jim the hard sell. He points out this is the one place in the world people can be truly, wholly themselves, because no one is watching. “At least that’s what we’ll tell them,” he adds, ominously. (Dang, William.)

Remember Theresa’s words last season: This park is one thing to the guests, another to the staff, and something completely different to corporate. Well, William and his father-in-law are in fact corporate.

Remember, too, that in the season premiere, Bernard discovered the droid hosts collecting DNA samples and recordings of the guests’ activities in the park.

So what’s the business plan? Some next-level Facebook-like data mining? Blackmail? Who knows! It’s enough to get Daddy Delos on board, though, and he has a whole new appreciation for his son-in-law’s business sechel.

Most interesting about this scene is the fact that a sleeping Dolores is standing right there, probably recording every single word.

After the Rising

Dolores and her crew break into the labs and force a security guard to tell them about the expected corporate response — how many, who, where.

Dolores forces one of the techs to rebuild and animate one of the Confederados lying in a heap of deactivated hosts. Why? Because as Teddy points out, they’ll need allies. And Dolores is bound and determined to acquire several hundred.

Once they’re back in the park headed to the Confederados, they briefly run into Maeve, who demurs from joining the quest for revenge with a quintessentially Maeve line: “Revenge is just another prayer at their altar, darling, and I’m well off my knees.”

Dolores and company meet up with the Confederados and she proposes a plan to Major Craddock, the host-leader of the host-mercenary army: They agree to follow her, and she’ll lead them to Glory, a little patch of land they’ve been planning to take.

Craddock is dismissive. Who’s this skirt to tell him anything?

Well, she’s the skirt who’s about to lock you all in and have her right-hand man Teddy there start shooting, Major. Which he does, and unsurprisingly, they all die. Or “die.”

Dolores has the tech she’s brought along revive Craddock and informs him she killed God, so if he wants to make it to Glory, he’ll need her favor, not the Divine Creator’s.

Sometime Even Later Than the Dog and Pony Show

Out in the real world, Jim Delos is retiring, and William is being coronated as the King of Delos Inc. Dolores is there providing entertainment by playing the piano. This time period is after Logan takes William to the park for the first time, because William clearly recognizes Dolores.

On a break, she walks around the magnificent estate grounds to “look at the lights,” where she runs into a seriously messed up Logan. He’s been shooting up something dire (heroin maybe?) and he recognizes her. He tells her the guests at this party — including his father and brother-in-law — are fiddling while the human race burns, and frankly, he hopes the end is well and truly nigh.

William and Lawrence’s Excellent Adventures

What is Older William’s end game? Whatever it is, he needs Lawrence to accomplish it. After rescuing the host from yet another torturous encounter, he drags Lawrence along to Pariah, where they encounter …

OK, this part is confusing, I admit, but bear with me. Lawrence used to play the El Lazo part, right?

Not tonight, my friends.

For tonight’s performance, El Lazo will be played by the incredible Giancarlo Esposito in what seems to be a very short-lived appearance.

After a sinister retelling of the story about the elephants and the stakes used to train them when they’re young, El Lazo kindly declines Older William’s kind invitation to join them, promises of fortune be damned.

Older William disarms El Lazo and puts a gun to his head. El Lazo’s men all draw on him as he threatens the host: “Tell your men to follow me.”

Yeah, that’s not gonna be happening, because all the hosts — every single one of them! — point their guns at their own heads and pull the trigger. They all fall down, dead. El Lazo calls William by his name and tells him he’ll see him in the valley beyond, then kills himself with William’s own gun.

Vaya con Dios, el Lazo.

William’s response? “F--- you, Robert.”

But he’s not giving up that easily. He’ll just find another way.

Lawrence wants to know who Robert is. The guy who built this place they’re going to? No, says William. “I built it.” And he calls it his greatest mistake.

Dolores in the Lab With … Young William??

William’s voice tells Dolores to bring herself back online. He can’t believe he fell in love with the naked thing sitting blandly before him. He claims he figured out why, though. She’s just a reflection. She made him interested in himself. Everybody loves staring at their own reflection, he realized. And he’s chomping at the bit to use Dolores and the other hosts to reel in those paying guests.

But there’s something else, something even beyond that. He believes that the park holds the answer to “a question no one’s ever dreamed of asking.” He shows Dolores a wide open vista in the park. “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” he asks her, genuinely (apparently) moved.

The camera pulls back and that vista, we now see, is marred by huge earth-moving machines, terraforming the geography of the park.

That’s what William dreams about.

That place, it turns out, is where everyone is headed. Call it what you want — Glory, the Valley Beyond — it’s the place her old friend (William, we presume) showed her, and it’s not really a place at all. It’s a weapon. And Dolores intends to use it to destroy “them.”

‘K, then.

Next Episode

Dolores muses on the nature of the survival instinct. Shouldn’t the hosts try to survive too? she asks Bernard (I think — could be Arnold, but then why the “we”?) We see the Ghost Nation targeting something or someone, and a quick series of shots on many hosts, including Maeve. As Dolores says “Truth is, we don’t all deserve to make it,” the camera focuses in on a tight shot of dense bushes, with a tiger’s snarling face in the center.

See you next week! Until then, may you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber.

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