This week’s episode, “Reunion,” raised a lot of big questions, but also filled in some very important gaps on the timeline.
Not a lot happens, in so far as moving the “present day” timeline forward, but we learn a ton about the origins of the park, and how it connects to what’s currently happening in the parks.
Dolores Has Left the Park at Least Twice
Even from early on, Dolores was for some reason a favorite of Arnold, who brought her out of the park for a demonstration (later revealed to be for Logan Delos). Years later, most likely after Arnold’s death, William brought Dolores out of the park again for Jim Delos’ retirement party. She can now access these memories, and may have learned something important from Logan about the nature of the park.
Only Certain Hosts Have “Woken Up”
In this episode we venture away from Escalante and further into the park, meeting a number of hosts who are still playing out their Westworld storylines. The implication here seems to be that Dolores and Wyatt’s cult are the only hosts inside of the park that have become conscious. Everyone else is still playing out their scripted loops, albeit with considerably increased lethality. Maeve is the obvious exception to this, having broken free of her loop behind the scenes in the Mesa Hub.
There’s of course an argument to be made that none of the hosts are truly “awake” yet, and are still playing out Ford’s “Journey Into Night” narrative (in the same way that Maeve’s escape was somehow scripted in Season 1). There’s been no indication that the members of Wyatt’s cult are truly awake, only that they’re following Dolores’s orders (something they would’ve been programmed to do anyways).
That theory aside though, it does appear that some hosts are capable of starting their journey through the maze (such as Teddy), or at least coming under the sway of Dolores’s leadership.
Hosts Are Quite a Bit More Durable Now
We already knew that the “safeties” were turned off in the park once Ford’s “Journey Into Night” narrative began, but now we see a new angle of it. Not only can hosts kill humans, but they’re also a lot harder to kill. It seems that hosts aren’t all that fragile, they mostly die when shot because their programming tells them to. Without that trigger though, it takes a lot more to put one down, as William finds out.
Additionally, this new fact seems to be messing with the pre-established loops in some cases. For example, Lawrence (remember him from Season 1) is supposed to be able to save himself from the Pardue brothers. But now they’re “off the leash” as William puts it, with one managing to survive what should have been a fatal shot.
This comes into play further into the episode, with Dolores able to bring back hosts who had “died” with the help of a Delos tech. Despite suffering mortal wounds, these hosts are still able to function once their “mortality response” is overridden.
Hosts’ Narrative Loops Have an End Point, and Ford is Still Directing the Story
As mentioned above, the vast majority of the hosts in the park are still carrying out their programmed loops, engaging in whatever storyline they’re meant to be a part of.
Back in Season 1, we learned that the “war” storyline, one of the most elaborate in the park, revolved around a conflict between the Confederados, ex-Confederate soldiers turned mercenaries, Union soldiers, and the Revolutionaries led by El Lazo. In this episode, we saw the culmination of this story arc for one of these factions, the Revolutionaries, who arrive at the town of Pariah and massacre everyone inside. If you’ll remember, Pariah is where we first met the Confederados, so this makes sense.
William meets the new “El Lazo,” and reveals that this massacre is the end of his programmed narrative, leaving the Revolutionaries aimless and without a purpose (“el lazo” translates to “the loop” by the way, if you didn’t get a chance to look that up last season). From this, we can gather that while the host loops are elaborate, they do end at some point. After all, there’s only so much writing you can do, and since visitors are only allowed to stay in the park for a maximum of 28 days,t here’s no reason to create any storytelling that would exceed that time frame.
What happens when even more hosts throughout the park find themselves without a purpose is the bigger question that this raises.
However, this revelation is overshadowed by an even bigger moment, when Ford seemingly instructs the hosts to deliver a message to William, before killing themselves. William had believed he’d be able to recruit the Revolutionaries to assist him, but Ford wants to William to play his game without help.
In the last episode, we saw Ford deliver a message through the “young Ford” host. This one seems quite a bit more elaborate though. Whether it was all pre-planned and programmed, or if Ford is somehow still directing this storyline from beyond the grave, remains to be seen.
Westworld’s Host AI is Far More Advanced Than It Should Be
Despite apparently taking place in the future, the technology behind the hosts is apparently still wildly advanced for the time. At the party/pitch for Westworld that Logan Delos attends, he is floored when he sees how humanlike the hosts are. Whatever tech Robert and Arnold invented, it’s miles ahead of anything else out there.
Is there a reason that the technology is so far beyond what Logan believed was possible? With everything we’ve learned of Westworld so far, there really hasn’t been much talk about competitors. If Westworld’s tech was replicable, even on a less grand scale, there would almost certainly be companies out there launching competing parks. Unless that’s the case and we just haven’t heard of them yet, then Robert and Arnold’s designs still remain extremely advanced for some reason, despite many years of Westworld existing in the public eye. There may be something more to their host designs than just really good AI programming.
Robert and Arnold’s Company Was Called the Argos Initiative
We also learn that Robert and Arnold’s company (pre-Delos acquisition) is known as the “Argos Initiative.” Some fans are already speculating that this is a reference to Greek mythology. Both Argos and Delos are names of real-life Greek islands (and in Greek mythology, Delos was a sacred location where mortals could not be born or die). However, Argo is also the name of the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed on. One member of this crew was Theseus, from which we get the “Ship of Theseus” paradox.
In this thought experiment, you’re asked to imagine a ship that in the course of its voyage, has all of its parts replaced one by one. When the ship arrives at its destination, is it still the same ship that left?
This concept obviously has some potentially big ties to the theory from last week that Delos is secretly trying to replicate and replace humans with hosts.
William Was the One Who Started the Data Collecting
After his first foray into Westworld with Logan, William became enamored with the park and tried to convince his future father-in-law, Jim Delos, to buy the controlling interest in the company. To do so, he explains that the real opportunity is not in selling tickets to the park, but in the opportunity to secretly monitor guests at their most unguarded.
This is enough to pique Delos’s interest, and as we know, sometime later his company is in fact in full control of Westworld, and its management are continuing to do… something with data collected from their park visitors.
Jim Delos Is Dying, and Westworld is Connected in Some Way
Following Delos Incorporated’s investment into Westworld, we find out that some years later, Jim Delos is forced to step down due to health reasons, leaving William in charge. Whatever disease or condition Delos has, it’s going to be fatal, and he presses William about something that’s in development that could help him.
It’s not clear what it is, but we can assume to some extent that it isn’t ready in time to save Jim Delos, as he’s out of the picture in the more modern timeline. Regardless though, it’s an important clue into the true nature of the Westworld project. What about hosts could have helped Delos? The obvious answer is that they’re working towards being able to replace humans with indistinguishable host versions, and replicating or transferring their consciousness into that new artificial body.
This theory gets even more weight in a conversation between Dolores and the now (even more) disgraced Logan Delos that night. Whatever it is they’re developing at Westworld, Logan believes it will end the human species. His toast, “may your forever be blissfully short,” really seems to be hinting towards the company attempting to achieve immortality through the hosts, something Logan apparently does not approve of.
Somehow it all just feels too… convenient though, and I would not be at all surprised if this idea is a giant red herring.
The Mysterious “Woman in the Photograph” is Jim Delos’s Daughter
This was a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but it’s important (and also tied to some very intriguing meta-show elements). At Jim Delos’s retirement party, we catch a quick glimpse of his daughter (who also happens to be William’s wife). While brief, it’s a big reveal if you happened to recognize her face. She’s the same woman who appeared in the Times Square photo that set Peter Abernathy down a path of madness in Season 1.
That isn’t all though. If you’ll remember back to those Season 1 Reddit threads, a few viewers quickly identified the photo as a stock photo from the Getty Images library. While the woman pictured was a minor celebrity (she appeared on a season of America’s Next Top Model), it seemed pretty open and shut. The Westworld team simply chose a random stock photo.
With this recent Season 2 reveal though, some very odd discoveries have been made, chronicled really nicely by HuffPost here. I’d encourage you to read through the full post, but in short, the actress Claire Unabia recently dropped an eyebrow raising statement when she claimed that the photo wasn’t for a stock images library. Instead, it was part of a photoshoot for a tech company… one that she can’t remember the name of. Suspicious? Absolutely. But it gets weirder.
Further discoveries were made by digging into the photographer’s photo portfolio, and finding that many of the images seemed to have some pretty huge links to Westworld concepts (like cowboys and samurai), and even featured what appeared to be actual props from the show.
So basically, the theory is that the Westworld team had the foresight to not only prepare a casting well before the character’s inclusion in Season 2, but also to construct a fictitious photographer and place his photos on Getty Images well in advance of even Season 1. I don’t know about you, but that feels extremely Westworld to me, and huge props to them if true.
Maeve and Dolores Are Not on the Same Team
There’s not much here to theorize on just yet, but it is worth noting that “woke” Maeve and “woke” Dolores have now officially met, and they didn’t exactly hit it off.
Maeve sees Dolores as having a god complex, while Dolores thinks that Maeve should be joining their ant-human revolution. They both go their separate ways after a brief conversation. Dolores is heading west, as we’ll discuss below, while Maeve is heading east towards the Ranch Lands.
Conveniently the map on the Discover Westworld site has been updated once again with their paths:
There’s Something Big Out West
The big, big revelation this week is that William and Dolores’s paths are heading towards the same destination, something that William built years ago on the Western edges of the park. In the years since, he’s come to consider it his greatest mistake, and is moving to destroy it. Dolores meanwhile believes it is a weapon that can be used against humanity, and is likewise journeying towards it.
Even more interesting is Lawrence’s observation that many of the storylines in the park seem to be fixated on heading west. Whether it’s seeking out “glory,” or the “pearly gates,” or what have you, for whatever reason, Ford and/or Arnold scripted in a fixation on this location into the minds of many hosts.