There’s a huge upheaval in WESTWORLD as Ford exits and his new storyline takes over. Delores and William discover the center of the maze, but what will that mean for them? Maeve breaks out of one loop to find herself trapped in another, and Arnold’s fate is revealed.
The Maze, what is it and what does it mean? The entire season has been focused on The Man in Black and Delores’s journey to find the center of the maze, some truth within the game, and the meaning and a purpose behind it all. The maze is a clever trick. It’s a mystery to hang the story of Westworld on, but in the end it’s really a sort of MacGuffin. If you focus too much on the search for the maze and the mystery of what it is, than you lose focus of the important theme of the show … consciousness and what it means to be human. Don’t get me wrong, the maze ties into this theme, but only at the very end in an oblique way. The maze is a metaphor, in reality it is a child’s game buried at a grave with Delores’s name on it, but its purpose, and the center of the maze itself, is Delores’s discovery of the self. The center of the maze is Delores’s inner voice, her consciousness, and it’s what she’s been so close to finding all along.
Maeve believes she’s found her own consciousness, her own ability to make decisions for herself, and her own way to exit the prison of the park. She’s recruited others, both human and host, come up with a plan, and has manipulated her way into breaking out of the park. She believes she’s escaping her preprogrammed loop, but it takes her resuscitation of Bernard for the truth to come out. Everything she’s doing, all of the moves she’s made to change herself and her situation, have been carefully planned and programmed within her by someone else. She’s following a script someone else has written for her, but who? Maeve doesn’t believe she isn’t in control of her own decision making, and won’t accept the possibility she’s being manipulated again.
One of the most interesting things during the escape was watching Hector and Armistice realize both the artifice of their lives and their joyful exuberance at fighting against the humans who’ve kept them captive. Armistice in particular gets a huge kick out of using the weapons they’ve taken from the security members against what at one time she considered to be Gods. She tells Maeve, “They don’t look like Gods,” and Maeve replies to her, “They’re not, they just act like it.” In the attempt to escape the park, the group winds up in a sort of side park, or adjacent park with a SW logo and a bunch of feudal Japanese Samurai hosts practicing combat. This is a nod to the original film, since there was supposedly a Roman World and a Medieval World adjacent to Westworld. Maeve actually makes it all of the way out of the park and onto the train to leave Westworld. She touches freedom for a moment, but is drawn right back into the prison of Westworld in order to find her missing daughter.
It’s been pretty clear for a while that William and the Man in Black were the same person all along, but the truth of how he turned out this way is finally revealed to Delores. When she disappeared, he looked for her and in the process went on a murderous rampage, where he found he had a taste for the depraved. So much so that it even shocked Logan who began the series as the more depraved of the two, while William was reserved and proper. In the end he found her right back where he started, in the town of Sweetwater, fulfilling the loop he first met her in. He’d touched something though, perhaps a truth or a hint of a truth with her then, and though he grew bored with her over time, he kept coming back looking for it. Now he’s old, and angry, and when he tells Delores to take him to the Maze and instead finds nothing but a child’s game he becomes angry and beats her after she won’t take him to see Wyatt. Delores fights back though, and it seems she may actually kill William, but something stops her, and he takes the moment to stab her. He has the upper hand again, but Teddy rushes in to her rescue and saves her from William. When he comes too, Ford is there. Ford invites him to the party for the unveiling of the new narrative, and tells him the maze was only meant for the hosts, the truth he was looking for in the park does not exist. William’s entire life’s pursuit was in vain.
Charlotte confronts Ford with the board’s decision to remove him. He’s to announce his retirement after the unveiling of his new narrative. Will he give up the reigns of his life’s work or will he knock all of the pieces off the Chessboard when he goes? How does a God retire and just walk away from all he created? Is it even possible? Is Charlotte and the board so naïve they believe he will just fade away? It looks like that’s exactly what they believe after she makes plans to smuggle all of the host’s code out of the park.
There are moments in the show, touching moments, emotional moments meant to stir our feelings and pull at our heartstrings, and one such moment is when Delores is dying she asks Teddy to take her to where the mountains meet the ocean. She gives a moving death speech, about hope, about beauty even inside the prison walls of the park, and as she dies Teddy takes what she’s said to heart, but everything freezes and the rug is pulled out from us. Clapping erupts, an audience appears in the darkness, it was all a show programmed for the delight of the board by Ford. We are watching a play within a play, and the artifice of the entire thing slaps us back into reality. It’s an incredible meta moment from the storytellers of Westworld about the nature of storytelling and the audience.
Ford fixes Delores in the place she was created by Arnold. When Bernard joins them the truth of what happened to Arnold comes out. He wanted to stop the park from opening because he believed Delores was alive, but Ford would hear nothing of it, so Arnold merged Delores with Wyatt and had her and Teddy massacre all of the hosts. Arnold was the key to their ability to gain consciousness so without him around he believed he could stop the park. His sadness at the true loss of his own child is why he programmed Delores to kill him, Teddy, and herself. In his absence Ford saw the truth of what Arnold was trying to accomplish. It took him thirty-five years to do it, but he’s followed through on Arnold’s plans. Ford is the person who has been waking up the hosts to their predicament, and his new narrative is the key to the hosts coming to control themselves and their own destinies. Delores wakes up to her purpose, and in a perfectly timed toast announcing the new storyline; she shoots Ford in the head exactly how he wanted to exit.
The creations have killed the God to take his place themselves. The army of retired hosts in the sub-basement is gone, they are now part of the new narrative where the hosts take Westworld back. The slaves rise up, and shake off the shackles of their oppressors. William is shot in the arm by one of them, and the pain makes him smile. He always believed Westworld was unfair without the host’s ability to fight back. He finally gets what he wanted, as Delores and the new narrative take vengeance on the board and the humans.
Where does this leave things going forward? I’m not sure. There are myriad possibilities in both the past and the future of where to pick the story back up, but as a contained season Westworld was fulfilling, enjoyable, and some of the most fun television I’ve watched in a really long time. I have no doubt Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will find an interesting tale to tell in the next season as well. Thanks for following along with me this season. I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read my reviews, and I look forward to your companionship on the other shows and other stories I review.
Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)
Westworld airs Sundays at 10PM on HBO
For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @OfSoundnVision
Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here.
Jeff Iblings | Contributor