8:00pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld' Finale: What's Ahead in Season 2's Brutal Climax
[This story contains spoilers for season two, episode nine of HBO's Westworld, "Vanishing Point," as well as a breakdown of the preview for the final episode of the season, "The Passenger."]
The season began with a journey into night. As Westworld prepares for its final episode of 2018, the series stands ready to plunge once more into darkness.
Exiting the penultimate episode of the season, "Vanishing Point," the HBO drama has unleashed a rather revealing glimpse at the final hour of the year: "The Passenger," written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye, the same filmmaker responsible for the first season's riveting seventh episode, "Trompe L'Oeil," in which viewers first learned Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) was a host. It was one of the very best episodes of the first season, filled with reversals — and looking at the preview for the season two finale, it's very likely that history is about to repeat itself.
Indeed, history is about to repeat itself in more ways than one, based on what the "Passenger" preview reveals: Bernard and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) relitigating the past, as they inch closer toward their dark future. Here's what we can surmise about what's ahead in the season finale, based on a beat-by-beat breakdown of the season two finale preview.
• "Freeze all motor functions ... let's try again." Within the first 15 seconds of the finale preview, we see Bernard reach The Valley Beyond, his journey juxtaposed against words uttered by Dolores that are eerily reminiscent of the words she spoke when helping Ford to bring him online in the first place. It helps bolster the theories that Bernard as he exists in the time period with Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) isn't Bernard as we know him, but someone who is complicit in whatever plan Dolores has in mind next.
• The preview's next image and subsequent scenes feature something that should be familiar to fans who have been paying close attention to the opening credits sequence this season: mechanical bulls charging forth and destroying the human obstacles in their paths. These creatures are seemingly under the control of Maeve (Thandie Newton), who is shrouded in a cape, which covers the gaping wounds in her neck sustained in the last stretch of episodes. Is this what it looks like when Maeve's "core permissions" are finally unlocked?
• Additionally, we see a rescue party coming for Maeve: Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto), Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum). Not that Maeve needs much rescuing; based on the way she blinks in synchronicity with the bull, it sure looks like she's in charge.
• At the 28-second mark, Bernard and Dolores are seen together in the streets of Sweetwater, watching as a prototypical Dolores walks in front of them. One imagines they are in a simulation much like the Cradle where Ford once thrived — much more likely to be "the Forge," or "The Valley Beyond," where the Man in Black (Ed Harris) and Delos strove toward perfecting human immortality via incubating digital human consciousness.
• At around 30 seconds, Dolores and Bernard walk past James Delos (Peter Mullan), last seen losing his mind in the fourth episode of the season. Here, Delos nurses a shot glass filled with whiskey, trapped behind glass, clearly still a test subject on his way toward... well, whatever sad fate he met earlier this season.
• There's another Delos with Dolores and Bernard: Logan (Ben Barnes), in all of his youthful glory, which suggests a couple of possibilities. We can discount the first one: this isn't a flashback. Dolores is wearing the same gun belt across her chest that she's wearing in the present timeline, which all but guarantees this isn't a flashback. Two other apparent possibilities: this version of Logan is a host, perhaps a host who is a proprietor of the Forge based on one of William's sick ideas; or this version of Logan is digital in nature, living within whatever simulated reality exists at the Forge, meant to help mature the virtual consciousnesses.
• Logan has a curious line in the preview: "I can see the bottom. Don't you wanna see what I see?" He seems to be saying this outside of his scenes with Dolores and Bernard, at some point during his true humanity. Is he talking to his father, James Delos, or perhaps even William? Those words are eerily familiar, given Delos' ramblings before his (thus far) final death in episode four.
• "This is the end. Nothing else is in the way now." So speaks the Man in Black, who is seen at one point holding a revolver against Dolores' forehead. The two old lovers turned adversaries are also seen riding alongside each other on horseback, presumably traveling together to the Valley Beyond. Are they on their way toward an uneasy alliance? And if so (and frankly, either way), is something going to happen that disturbs their alliance, given William's absence in the scenes with Dolores, Bernard and Logan?
• "There's only one question left to ask," Robert Ford posits toward the preview's conclusion, which prompts a question from Bernard: "Will you help me?" Does it turn out that the Westworld creator's intentions toward his creations isn't so benevolent after all? At the very least, it makes it clear that Ford hasn't been deleted from Bernard's mind, as was suggested toward the end of "Vanishing Point." Whatever he has in mind, Ford still has a few tricks up his sleeve as season two moves toward the end game.
• The final section of the preview features several flashing images, hard to define. A few takeaways: the Maeve rescue party looks like it's going to get entangled with Charlotte Hale's contingent; Dolores and Bernard are seen walking in the same space that the robotic James Delos once occupied, or at least a version of that space; Bernard and Dolores walking toward a structure that looks similar to the home Arnold once showed her back in "Reunion"; Maeve battling it out with Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), with the two of them very likely both in control of the mesh network; and a bloodied Man in Black walking toward someone mysterious, in the middle of Sweetwater.
Watch the preview for "The Passenger" above.
What are your expectations for the season finale? Sound off in the comments section below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.