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[This story contains spoilers through season two, episode two of HBO’s Westworld, called “Reunion.”]
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) isn’t one to own up to mistakes easily — so when he calls something his “greatest mistake,” it’s worth taking a moment to truly chew on the words.
In “Reunion,” the second episode of Westworld‘s sophomore season, several periods of time collide to start unifying a picture of what’s fueling the park from behind the scenes: a secret business involving guests’ personal information. The specifics of what the business entails remain unknown at this point, but it all stems from an initial idea pitched by young William (Jimmi Simpson) to his father-in-law James Delos (Peter Mullan) long ago.
“This place is fantasy,” William tells James. “Nothing here is real, except one thing: the guests. Half of your marketing budget goes to figuring out what people want. Because they don’t know. But here, they’re free. Nobody is watching, nobody is judging. At least that’s what we tell them. This is the only place in the world where you get to see people for who they really are. If you don’t see the business in that, then you’re not the businessman I thought you were.”
Later in the episode, and much later in his own life, William speaks about this same idea with the gravitas of someone who has made an error in judgment. Speaking with Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.), the Man in Black articulates what’s really at the heart of Westworld.
“If you [believed in God], you would believe everything you’ve done has been watched by an all-seeing eye — every choice, every little indiscretion — and when you die, all your sins are tallied up and judgment is rendered,” the Man in Black tells his companion. “That’s why your world exists. [Humanity] wanted a place hidden from God, a place they could sin in peace. But we were watching them. We were tallying up all their sins, all their choices. Of course, judgment wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind entirely.”
William announces his plans to “fight [his] way back and appeal the verdict” of the judgment that he has endured, intending to “burn this whole f—ing thing to the ground.” Later, he describes this destination as a place he built himself, the site of his “greatest mistake.” Given the monstrous actions he’s committed over the course of the series, it’s no wonder the Man in Black wouldn’t want there to be any record of his life in the park — and that’s exactly why his personal history is so thoroughly useful for Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood).
At the end of the episode, young William shows Dolores a construction site, the place where an answer to a question that hasn’t yet been asked is being built. The episode at large goes through great lengths to show how Dolores has retained knowledge from all of her past experiences, even when everyone around her believed she was offline or otherwise harmless. She tells Teddy (James Marsden) that she knows exactly what lies in “the Valley Beyond,” or “Glory,” or whatever anyone wants to call it.
“An old friend was foolish enough to show me long ago,” she says. “It’s not a place. It’s a weapon. And I’m going to use it to destroy them.”
In the season premiere, Dolores tells Teddy that in order for their kind to survive, it’s not enough to win freedom in Westworld itself. They must win in humanity’s world as well. Right now, the odds are stacked against Dolores and her allies, numbering at little more than 50 hosts. (Those numbers have since been bolstered by the arrival of Jonathan Tucker’s Major Craddock and the other Confederados.) Almost 800 security soldiers are set to arrive in Westworld before long, and based on the premiere’s events, we can mark their arrival at roughly two weeks after the events of the season one finale. Not a lot of time for Dolores and friends to pull off a victory against the entire human race, is it?
Unless Dolores is able to reach “Glory,” also known as the Man in Black’s “greatest mistake.” If she can access the ugly particulars of every single guest who has ever visited Westworld — most of them high-powered individuals with disturbing proclivities, one would imagine — then Dolores would have the power to strike a huge blow against humanity with a few keystrokes.
Dolores and William are in the thick of an arms race, in other words. The weapon they seek is nothing short of an informational nuclear bomb, with the capacity to shatter civilization as they know it — and the countdown clock is already ticking away.
What are your theories about Dolores’ search for the “weapon”? Sound off with your theories in the comments below and keep following THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.
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