Westworld is all over the map this week, foregoing the specific character focus of previous episodes this season to really drop in and catch up with everyone. And then “Phase Space” went and blew everyone’s mind with an ending that brought back a familiar face who we thought we’d never see again. Let’s start there while we pull our jaw off the floor…
The closing scenes of “Phase Space” offered the real mindblower this week, revealing Robert Ford in the version of Sweetwater that resides in the Cradle, a virtual simulation of the park. Presumably, it was Ford’s consciousness in that little red ball that Bernard retrieved and implanted in the Cradle, which perhaps even set every element of his journey into place. Think about it: Ford has Bernard put him in the Cradle, and then has Angela drag him to the cave to find Elsie, knowing that she would lead him back to Ford. Has Ford just been tinkling the ivories ever since, waiting for his narrative to play out? Or is it possible that he’s been orchestrating his entire plan from there? Also: He’s clearly responsible for the “improvising” that Elsie thinks is happening in the Cradle, right? This time, Ford is controlling the machine of Westworld from within.
If the closing scene of “Phase Space” was the biggest shock, then the opening scene is a close second. There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with when and even where this conversation between Arnold/Bernard and Dolores is taking place. When we saw this different aspect ratio in a similar scene between Arnold/Bernard and Dolores in the season premiere, we assumed that meant it happened in the past. What if it didn’t? It’s a continuation of that season-opening scene, which means that it’s either the exact same moment or the original conversation between Dolores and Arnold being recreated with Dolores and Bernard (if not another host entirely). Here’s the key detail: The same aspect ratio is used to represent the Cradle, so might these Dolores scenes be taking place in a virtual world? If not, given what this scene reveals — that Dolores is testing him this time — are they taking place in the future? How far in the future?
The big reveal is something fans had suspected, which is that Dolores isn’t talking to Arnold Weber but Bernard Lowe, and the tables have turned on the testing routine we saw so often in the first season. But it may be more important to remember a few details from “The Riddle of the Sphinx” first. Specifically, Dolores tells Bernard that she’s doing it for “fidelity,” in much the same way that William recreated scripted conversations with the host version of his father-in-law James Delos. Why? Is she trying to figure something out about her dynamic with Arnold — note that she wants it to be exactly the same as a conversation she had with him — or just make sure that this version of Bernard is stable? Remember: William also sought fidelity in the host version of Delos. Fans have theorized that Arnold’s consciousness could have been saved somewhere — and may even be who we saw on the beach in the “future” scenes. What if Dolores is testing him like William tested Delos? Arnold could have been “resurrected” too.
As she walks out of Shogunworld and keeps the blood flowing, it’s worth asking how she could possibly be stopped on a grand scale. Even with her colleagues held hostage, she knows she’s in complete control. Programming or ritual kicks in and a duel takes place to determine if she can leave Shogunworld, but everyone knows the “witch” is actually in charge. She lets them choose their fates.
William suspects that his daughter is actually part of Ford’s narrative — and even a host. She might be! This is Westworld, after all. It would make a bit more sense, as to how she found him and did so relatively unharmed. Although their campfire reunion is emotional, when she asks him to leave the park, it almost sounds like a test that Ford would work into his narrative. Ford has been clearly playing emotional games with William, perhaps even resurrecting memories of his family and his wife’s suicide now. If so, here’s the question: Does William pass the test by ditching his daughter in the middle of the night? The game never stops.
Speaking of Grace, let’s presume for the sake of this one that she’s telling her father the truth and isn’t a host. Why would Charlotte call and invite her to the Raj? Just because she’s a VIP and a lot of big shots were coming to the park for the gala? Or is there more to why Grace is there in the first place? Is it possible she’s not even telling the truth about Charlotte and her schemes?
Here’s the easy answer: Maeve was emotionally devastated to learn that she had been replaced in her own daughter’s narrative. That could explain why she doesn’t just use her host-control powers to protect everyone around her when the Ghost Nation arrives. She’s possibly falling back into old patterns of that story again, too. The better question is this: What happens to Maeve and her daughter next, especially with Sizemore calling in the cavalry?