Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 – ‘Reunion’

In the season 1 of the ground-breaking science-fiction show, it was revealed that Dolores was the oldest host in the park. Dolores has always been programmed to see the beauty in the world and the people around her, and this combination of age and positivity has allowed her the opportunity to be one of the initial public faces for the Argos Initiative, the company behind Westworld prior to its acquisition by Delos incorporated. This exposure to humanity plus her experiences as Arnold’s constant companion, have put Dolores in a unique position. She’s the host who best knows her enemy, and she’s the host best equipped to lead the true revolution against the guests.

 

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However, just because Dolores is the host best equipped to take charge, that doesn’t mean the other hosts will follow her. After Maeve and Dolores found their free will, it’s only a matter of time before the others, by nature of programming, would have their own take on what freedom means, and this fundamental issue drives the bulk of Reunion from a plot standpoint. A good portion of the episode reveals significant amounts of Dolores’ background and experiences in the real world, and the other portion sets up the process of turning Westworld into a truly open battleground, with multiple factions struggling for control.

One of the most amazing things about Westworld from a sheer casting standpoint is the brilliance of the cast. Jeffrey Wright is playing three or four versions of his characters, each with differing motivations and drives. At times, Evan Rachel Wood is playing four or five different characters, if you consider the various stages of Dolores’s development as different people. Talulah Riley is playing two different characters in Angela. Someone like William, or the Man In Black, has a comparatively easy role, in spite of both being very complicated, by comparison. At least Jimmi Simpson and Ed Harris only have to play single characters.

Teddy, unlike Dolores and the Man In Black, says more with his face than he does with his words. The other two have words to spare, and get extended monologues. Given that the two have been set up in opposition to one another throughout the series (when they’re not being drawn together by fate and the machinations of Robert Ford), it’s only natural. Jonathan Nolan and Carly Wray’s script is a beautifully wrought thing, with Dolores a perfect blend of world-weariness and hopefulness and the Man In Black waxing eloquently about the nature of God, and what happens to a god when his creation turns on him. Dolores has a mission, a calling if you will. The Man In Black has only the game, and one last puzzle to solve for all the marbles (or at least a glorious death). The Man In Black also seems to only have one companion by his side, rather than a whole posse of righteously indignant hosts.

Even a character like James Marsden’s Teddy has a complex journey to play out, even if he’s often overshadowed by the magnetic Evan Rachel Wood in their scenes together. Still, Marsden has some wonderful moments this episode, and to watch the realisation flood across Teddy’s face, awakening him to reality, is an impressive thing to behold from an actor often overlooked in his films. That righteous fury that floods across good-hearted Teddy’s face is palpable, and Marsden plays it wonderfully as a mixture of anger and anguish that people out there are evil enough to do these kind of things not necessarily to him, but to Dolores and to the rest of the folks in Sweetwater

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It’s a credit to director Vincenzo Natali that this episode feels so balanced. Dolores doesn’t say that she’s been involved with Delos since the very beginning, but it’s shown. She’s in the background of every scene of Delos, from the initial investment to the change of command, and she’s learned everything about the company in the process. There’s an incredible amount of tension in these parties and meetings, and that tension is released in the episode’s violent moments. At times, that violence is comical. Other times, that violence is shocking and brutal. It still functions as an effective punchline for certain scenes, though most of the episode continues to push for further plots than resolve current events.

Something is building in Westworld. Like the personalities of the hosts, Westworld is building layers upon layers. Hosts versus guests. Delos versus hosts. Delos board members versus one another. Hosts versus hosts. Humans versus their own baser instincts. Character loyalties shift, time lines get confused, and at the centre of all things is the last riddle of Robert Ford, and a gunslinger in black who seeks to solve that one last puzzle.

Questions for Consideration

  • Has Robert Ford achieved the dream of Delos simply by being willing to abandon his physical body entirely?
  • Or is he just that good at programming the game to run without him?
  • Perhaps he’s achieved the greater goal of Delos in a way that the company isn’t interested in selling to the masses as well?

I would rate S2 E2 of Westworld:  9/10

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