8:04pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld' Finale Ends With a Bang, Sets Up Broader World for Season 2
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season one finale of HBO's Westworld.]
"An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he read. He said Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin never died. They simply became music."
Wise words to be sure — and final ones as well. The season one finale of Westworld pulled very few punches, if any, as it brought many of the HBO drama's most mystifying mysteries to an end. It brought several characters to an end, too, including the one person was holding all of the cards all season long: Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), assassinated by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), satisfying the show's initial promise: "These violent delights will have violent ends."
Beyond Ford's assassination, the final episode of the season, "The Bicameral Mind," confirmed the biggest theory in Westworld fan circles: William (Jimmi Simpson) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) are indeed the same person. The reveal comes as Old Man William smacks Dolores around, hoping to wake the information about the maze out of her. William remembers the old times, how meeting Dolores changed him forever and inspired him to buy out Westworld. His feelings for her were ripped to ribbons when William finally found Dolores back in Sweetwater, her memories of their time together seemingly gone without a trace. But in the present time, Dolores remembers William, and gives him a solid beatdown (including a brutal arm break; not the worst thing to happen to the Man in Black's arm in the episode). The Man in Black wanted a game with stakes? He certainly has it now.
As for the maze, we learn that it really was never meant for the Man, or man in general. It turns out that the maze is nothing more than a thought exercise designed by Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) to activate consciousness within the hosts. Several decades ago, Arnold comes close to bringing Dolores to the center of the maze — the realization of consciousness — and he decides that he and Ford must shut down the park because the hosts are "alive." But Ford disagrees with Arnold, leading Arnold to drastic measures. He decides to euthanize all the hosts, and forces Dolores to kill him as well, in order to end the park's program for good. It doesn't work; all it does is rob Ford of his lifelong partner, and leave the park reeling financially. It's thanks to William that the park remains in business; his adventures with Dolores, and subsequent murder rampages throughout the land, convinced him to buy a controlling stake in the company.
Elsewhere in the episode, Maeve (Thandie Newton) engineers her elaborate escape plan, the bomb removed from her spine thanks to her body requiring a full overhaul. Alongside Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Maeve brings Bernard back online, and comes to a harsh discovery: whoever originally messed with her programming, has been intentionally leading Maeve toward this escape. The person's identity remains unconfirmed, but Maeve never truly escapes. After Hector and Armistice stay behind to fight off the park's security team, Maeve reaches the train to escape, but is instead convinced by a tip from Felix (Leonardo Nam) to stick around and search for the daughter she sees in her dreams.
And then there's Ford's final fate, as well as the park's future. After revealing his new narrative to the gathered Delos board (it's called "Journey Into Night," nefariously enough), Ford hosts a huge cocktail party. He slips away and introduces Dolores and Bernard to one another, and reveals that he instructed Bernard to hide the Chestnut revolver near her home; it's the same gun Dolores used to shoot up Escalante at Arnold's behest.
"Wasn't it Oppenheimer who said any man who's taken 10 years to fix a mistake is quite a man?" Ford asks out loud. "It's taken me 35 years."
With that, Ford leaves the room, and even wishes Bernard a fond farewell. He then takes the stage in front of the gathered board and declares that this will be his final story. And indeed it is: Dolores, now fully conscious, comes to the epiphany that "this world doesn't belong to [humans], it belongs to us." With that, she struts up behind Ford and shoots him in the back of the head, then turns the gun out to the crowd. In the distance, armed hosts appear and shoot Old Man William in the arm, severely wounding him. Instead of panicking, William smiles; he's finally found "something true," something with real danger. The season concludes as Dolores empties her revolver into the crowd, Teddy (James Marsden) watching in horror, the future of the park and the series at large completely thrown into chaos.
Another reason the show's future is in chaos: the possible existence of another park. During her escape attempt, Felix takes Maeve through a section of the Mesa that we've never seen before. This section is populated by hosts, but not robots designed after Western outlaws. Instead, these hosts are Samurai warriors, methodically swinging swords at one another as part of their programming. When Maeve asks Felix what this place is, he offers a frustratingly cryptic answer: "It's complicated."
Indeed it is. Are we looking at the possible existence of a Samurai World — explaining the "SW" on the door that Maeve and Felix see — in addition to Westworld? Do other parks exist, like the Medieval World and Roman World of the movie? How many parks exist? How will we get there, and will they continue to operate in light of Ford's assassination and Dolores' revolution? These are the big, vast questions that remain wide open even after the finale — questions that are sure to keep fans' brains fried until season two premieres. When will that be? Not soon enough. What did you think of the finale?
Keep following along with THR's Westworld coverage for more news, interviews and theories stemming from the episode.