The Season 2 finale of Westworld (“The Passenger”) resembled the rest of the season for me. It was a roller coaster. I really enjoy this show and I think that it is a well-made. A lot of the problems I have with the show can be masked with how the show is made. It’s not a linear story so they can pose questions while delaying the answers for several episodes and as long as there is some sort of resolution, I’m good. The first season did this very well. It all built up to the finale and it delivered. I got some closure, have some new questions and had a good time. The second season seemed to have doubled down on this formula. There were so many questions asked this season and the answers were delayed for so long, it seemed impossible to tie them all up in one episode (even if it was 90 minutes). Hence my roller coaster experience.
As a spectacle, Westworld works. It is fun to watch, fun to theorize about and fun to discuss. It stays in your mind all week, there aren’t a lot of shows that do that anymore. As an actual narrative Season 2 was all over the place and that was reflected in the finale. I was hoping the finale would clean up some of the mess but it didn’t, it created a bigger one. There were some resolutions but not as many as I hoped and now I have so many more questions. This is a problem because there should be some closure at the end of a season but instead I’m left more confused than anything else. The finale was a fun watch but not a satisfying one, which is incredibly disappointing.
There was so much going on in this episode it is hard to pinpoint exactly what was important. Let’s start with the Valley Beyond. This was one of the more straightforward parts of the episode (and season) and therefore it worked the best for me. The Valley Beyond ended up being a place (an “Eden” like place) for the host’s consciousness to live on, undisturbed. Several hosts make it to this place including Akecheta, Maeve’s daughter and Teddy. Maeve and her group sacrifice themselves to allow hosts (mainly Maeve’s daughter) to enter. This created one of the better moments of the episode for me, which is ironic because I’ve been down on this storyline all season. This worked for me because it provided closure. This was a place that was being teased all season by multiple characters and we got to see it and watch some characters complete their arc by finding it. The Valley Beyond was also rendered well, and that helped to make it work. It was an amazing moment to see Maeve’s daughter make it through the door and into the Valley Beyond. It was heartbreaking to see Maeve have to sacrifice herself for it but it was beautiful and completely changes how I feel about that storyline. It worked much better than I thought that it would.
I was also wrong about something else, William is a host. Or eventually he becomes a one, I don’t really know, it’s not exactly made all that clear. The post credit scene shows us that he is a host but there is no telling at what time this took place. Which means William’s presence all throughout this episode is odd and his arc this season is all the more odd. He is supposed to be playing a game that was designed for him by Ford. Unless I missed something there was no real resolution to this and it was just abandoned. Even though he as a character became more interesting, his service to the overall story is still a mystery that this finale didn’t shed any light on.
This brings me to the biggest mystery and most confusing aspect of this whole story; Bernard and Dolores. The latter has been my favorite part of this story. A lot of that can be attributed to the performance of Evan Rachel Wood. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say, her performance on this show is nothing short of incredible. That includes this episode. The problem I have is that her story doesn’t make much sense anymore. From the beginning she wanted to get out of the park to take the fight to the humans in their world. She accomplished that in this episode and it was satisfying to an extent. How she got there was a bit less satisfying. While this story (or what is left of it) seems to be her story, she doesn’t seem to be the hero of this story. She will sacrifice anything to get what she wants and that includes trying to kill all of the hosts, even though she wants the hosts to live on. Her logic makes sense, the Valley Beyond is just another cage constructed by humans and it’s not true freedom, but her actions don’t make sense. I don’t really know what her plan was in the Forge and that is a problem. Bernard stopping her, killing her and then bringing “her” back in Charlotte’s body was a great reveal. It was shocking, surprising and dropped my jaw, which is what was intended but it was also confusing. It worked in the moment and continues to work if you don’t really think about it. As for Bernard, he was a mess all season and continued to be in this episode. All of the time-hopping was disorienting. There didn’t seem to be much resolution to this within the episode and that was disappointing. There does seem to be a new Bernard in the real world but I’m confused about what he is going to do or why he is there.
Overall my feelings are pretty simple, it was great in the moment but once I started thinking back, it started falling apart. It had all the things that made the show great. It was beautiful to look at, I was constantly on my toes and it constantly twisted and turned. That is fun to watch and to that extent I really enjoyed it. I’m just frustrated the story isn’t more clear. I don’t need it to be served up on a platter for me but there doesn’t seem to be much of a clear story left. I have no idea where they are going in Season 3 and I’m not quite sure what there is to do. The show seems more interested in asking questions than it does in answering them. This makes sense; it’s more fun to ask questions. You can do a lot with that and make an entertaining show by asking a lot of questions but when you don’t answer them, the experience falls short and it feels a bit empty. Unfortunately that is how I feel after this finale, empty. There are tons of performances and moments that I love but they aren’t tied to anything substantial and that brings the show down a bit. It was a fun ride this season but in the end it left me wanting a bit more.