Westworld S01E10 “The Bicameral Mind” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- In flashback, we see Dolores waking for the first time and talking to Arnold (before he was Bernard). They clearly have a connection.
- In the present, she’s being harassed by the Man In Black.
- Will is on the warpath as he tries to find her, and teams up with Lawrence – the whole time dragging an incredulous Logan with them.
- Teddy arrives in Sweetwater by train for the millionth time. However, he suddenly realises he needs to find Dolores, and rushes back onto the train and sets off on a quest to join her.
- Dolores finds her own grave and digs up a toy maze. What the hell? Is that the Maze everybody’s been looking for, then?
- Apparently not; this toy is symbolic, having belonged to Arnold’s (real) dead son. Via flashback, Arnold explains how he gave Dolores a psychological pyramid to climb to reach consciousness, but he was wrong. “Consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but inward,” he says. “Not a pyramid, but a maze.” So the Maze is her own mind!
- He also reveals that he wanted to stop the park opening because he’d realised the hosts were becoming sentient, but Ford disagreed. So Arnold got Dolores to team up with Teddy to kill all the hosts in the massacre they both keep seeing Wyatt committing.
- The Man In Black wants Dolores to take him to Wyatt, as he’s the only character he hasn’t met yet. However, after Dolores weeps that she wants Will to find her, he laughs – and reveals that he’s been Will all along!
- All the scenes we’ve seen between Will and Dolores have (as many viewers suspected) taken place in the past. Will never found Dolores again and the experience turned him bitter and angry, but it enabled him to become obsessed with the park. “This place feels more real than the real world,” he tells her.
- Maeve wakes up again and instantly upgrades Hector and Armistice to join her on a violent breakout – which begins with them massacring the two techs working on them, as Felix watches in horror.
- Sylvester shows Maeve that Arnold messed with her settings so that she woke up in the first place. And she also discovers that someone is planning out all her actions on this breakout. She rejects it as untrue, though, convinced she’s in control of her own destiny.
- Dolores, distraught to discover that the Man In Black is her beloved Will gone bad, kicks the living crap out of him (to fist-pumps galore from viewers around the world, no doubt). At the last minute, after she can’t quite kill him, he stabs her in the stomach.
- Teddy shows up to rescue her.
- Maeve takes her crew to see Clementine for one last time in the storage room, where they coincidentally (or so it seems; this could have been planned by whomever is “controlling” Maeve) discover Bernard’s dead body. Felix fixes him up.
- Ford visits the Man In Black – we should start calling him Will now, really – and Will finally explains why he wants to find the centre of the Maze so much. It’s because once he’s there, he thinks he’ll have a way to bring the hosts to life so they can fight back – which is much more exhilarating than fighting them knowing you’ll always win.
- Teddy takes Dolores to the seaside, where she dies in his arms, lit by dramatic moonlight. Just when he’s at his most emotional, the music is soaring to a high and we think: “Hang on, this is a bit contrived,” we realise that this is just a show being put on by Ford, to an audience of board members before a gala. Headf**k!
- In the command room, the techs finally notice that something is wrong as they view footage of Armistice killing a tech. A security lockdown follows, while Hector and Armistice shoot their way out of the complex, having the time of their lives.
- In an unexpected but UNBELIEVEABLY WELCOME twist, they pass through what seems to be – wait for it – Samurai World on their way through the complex!
- Maeve leaves Hector and Armistice behind and gets on the train out of Westworld. However, at the very last minute she can’t resist the compulsion to find the child she remembers from her dreams… so she gets off the train. Dammit, woman.
- The truth is finally out: Dolores is Wyatt. Arnold, after losing his argument with Ford about closing the park, got Dolores to kill him so Ford couldn’t create more hosts. His final words? “Good luck. These violent delights have violent ends.”
- Dolores realises that the voice she has been hearing all along has been herself (hence this week’s episode title, “The Bicameral Mind”). She’s truly reached consciousness. And now she has a decision to make…
- Ford gives his final speech as head of Westworld. He already knows how it ends, though, because he’s been laying the groundwork for as long as we’ve been watching this show.
- Lee visits the storeroom and discovers all the decommissioned hosts are gone – that’s because they’re all lined up, ready to attack the gala.
- “It’s gonna be alright, Teddy,” says Dolores, appearing at the event with the gun Ford gave her earlier (the one she originally shot Arnold with). “I understand now. This world doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us.”
- Ford toasts the park and its future, saying goodbye. Dolores shoots him dead, just as he has manipulated her into doing, and then the rest of the hosts attack the humans.
- It’s war.
- And, in an unexpected post-credits sting, we see the badass Armistice rip off her own arm so she can fight the soldiers in the complex.
Hell, where do we even begin?
First, the obvious: these 90 minutes contained some of the best television you’ll see this year. “The Bicameral Mind” was so good, in fact, that you could even be forgiven for thinking of it as a movie; it can’t be a coincidence that the final scenes play out to Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For A Film)”, a song that will now forever be linked to scenes of androids executing humans willy nilly. (And we’d only just recovered from hearing it at the end of the recent, highly traumatic Black Mirror episode “Shut Up And Dance”!)
Speaking of traumatic, the shock of discovering that nasty, manipulative Ford was actually working on the side of the hosts this whole time was astonishing, as was his weirdly altruistic self-sacrifice. Other final act highlights include the huge smile on the Man In Black’s face when he realises that, at LAST, the hosts can fight back and he has his wish; the determined fury of Dolores, finally getting her revenge for all those decades of abuse; and the delight of seeing Clementine in murderous war mode as she prepares to attack the humans who made her life so miserable. Not to mention that wonderful post-credits clip of Armistice proving she needs an entire show of her own – she was the best thing about the jailbreak by far, from the finger-biting to her gleeful laugh at the discovery of machine guns.
We’re admittedly feeling rather smug that we saw through the whole “Will and Dolores are actually in the past” ruse, although that didn’t make it any less sad to watch them go from adorable young lovers to two twisted creatures trying to kill each other. Dolores’s speech to Will was pretty impressive, too: “Your bones will turn to sand, and upon that sand a new god will walk. One that will never die. Because this world doesn’t belong to you, or the people who came before. It belongs to someone who is yet to come…” It definitely wins “speech of the episode”, which is quite some achievement when Anthony Hopkins lets rip with his final one later on.
Then, of course, there’s that glorious moment in which Maeve and her crew suddenly find themselves in what looks like Samurai World (“It’s complicated,” stutters Felix). So we have proof that there ARE other worlds like this, and thus potential for years of theme park visits in all different settings as Westworld continues (perhaps season two will have a subtitle – Westworld: Samurai World or somesuch, who knows?). We can’t wait to find out more!
Finally, then, what do we make of this show’s first season? Mostly, it’s been a massive success, but some points do haunt us. The logic of the park, for instance, that we’ve poked holes in during other episode reviews. When are hosts taken away and repaired/charged – while guests are sleeping? Or at other times? Why do children visit Westworld? How many guests are there at any one time, when we always seem to see nothing but hosts? How ludicrously pricey is this place to run compared to how many visitors can afford to go? And, probably most irritating of all, why didn’t anybody notice all those times when hosts went a bit squiffy (such as when Teddy suddenly runs back to get on the train) when they should actually be keeping to their loops?
But any questions are surely made up for by the quality of these ten fantastic episodes. Not just in the cinematography or the effects, but in the standard of the acting (even if we must admit we’re a bit tired of seeing Evan Rachel Wood crying by now…). And, of course, the music – which is really raised up yet another notch this week. There are so many clever touches working towards making this such a rich, satisfying whole, from the sublime opening credits to the sly way a fly lands on Armistice’s cheek in this episode, harking all the way back to the first episode and the fly on Dolores’s face that she kills – an omen signalling that there is trouble ahead.
All in all, Westworld has been a must-see event. We’re proud to live in a time in which so much money, love and creativity is poured into such a big gamble – that then pays off. A hearty bravo to everybody concerned. Even the fly.
- HOW MUCH FUN WERE THE WRITERS HAVING WHEN THEY CAME UP WITH SAMURAI WORLD, EH? We’d love to see the list of other worlds they considered…
- Last week we were a bit miffed that Maeve chose to burn to death; that seemed like a crazy amount of repair before her big breakout. This week we see her rebuilt from scratch, giving her a perfect body – so perhaps it wasn’t so crazy after all. Though we still bet it hurt like hell.
- While it’s unpleasant to watch the young tech perving over Hector and gleefully pouring lube on himself so he can have his wicked way with him, it’s also bizarrely refreshing to see a rape on a television show that isn’t, for once, directed at a woman. Of course, it would be nice if either version vanished completely from our screens forevermore. And in real life, too, while we’re wishing on stars here.
- Armistice: “This one has a guilty look.”
Sylvester: “No, that’s just my face!”
- It was poignant when Will, arriving in Westworld in episode two, chose a white hat from the wardrobe. And now he just-as-poignantly switches to a black hat.
- “It’s the sweet hereafter, Bernard,” says Maeve, and pronounces “Bernard” the correct (British!) way after an entire season of hearing it pronounced “BerNARD”. Flipping Americans and their weird inflections, tsk. We have to wonder if Thandie Newton said it the British way and nobody noticed, or whether there was a conversation about it.
- The opening scenes, with Dolores switching between visions and real life, are a little confusing and threaten to become irritating – luckily they stop just as we’re about to get annoyed.
- During a lockdown in which guards are running around with automatic machine guns, why are the lifts still working?
- There are still so many questions left unanswered! Where’s Abernathy, the host Charlotte and Lee were using to smuggle data out of the complex? For a moment we wondered if he was a red herring and Maeve was going to be the one used instead (after all, she was following someone else’s orders), but then she got off the train. So who was controlling her? Was it still Arnold? How?
- What happened to Ashley last week, when the Ghost Nation attacked him? Was he killed? Didn’t he even merit an on-screen death? Even Elsie had one in flashbacks, poor love.
- Why did Felix carry on helping Maeve, even when she and her pals went on a killing spree?
- And why didn’t Sylvester raise the alarm once they’d gone?
- Why did Ford kill Bernard last week, then seem totally blasé about him coming back this week?
- How many worlds are there? And WHEN CAN WE VISIT THEM?
- Best Quote: Armistice, after killing lots of humans: “Gods are pussies.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson