Last week, here, I pondered how upstanding, likeable William (Jimmi Simpson) turned into the unfeeling, brutal Man in Black (Ed Harris). We don’t get all the answers in ‘Reunion’ (if you expected to then I’d question which show you’ve been watching for the last 11 episodes), but what we do see is a midpoint William, definitely crueller, definitely less upstanding. After how devoted he was to Dolores in the first season, it’s actually quite upsetting to see him treat her so coldly. “You really are just a thing,” he says, before later correcting himself, “You’re not even a thing… You’re a reflection.”
In a somewhat timely analogy, William convinces his father-in-law (hello Peter Mullan!) of the park’s potential for uncovering people’s true behaviour – their innermost desires, likes, dislikes – all in the service of more effective marketing. Seems the writing staff have been keeping abreast of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook shenanigans. We knew Delos were up to no good, but this is truly nefarious. Meanwhile, despicable Logan seems somewhat less despicable. Drugged up and drunk at his father’s retirement party, he monologues to Dolores about how his dear old dad and brother-in-law are inadvertently bringing about the end of the human race, one he sees as totally justified.
So, we’re also back to multiple timelines again, although this time it all seems a little easier to keep in order. We open on Dolores outside the park, back in the days before it all started, being prepped by Arnold for a sales pitch to Logan. Arnold insists she’s not ready, so instead he takes her to see the home he’s building for his wife and son, the son whose impending death will push Arnold over the edge. The pitch involves a cocktail party where everyone but Logan (whose surname is Delos – gasp!) is a host, including Talulah Riley, who exploits Logan’s randiness to show him exactly what the hosts are capable of. It all serves to convince him that the park is a worthwhile investment.
It’s the first time Westworld has strayed beyond the park and its facility, but while expanding the show’s world, it counteracts the pace of the first episode. When season one ended on the dawn of the rebellion, we were all set for Westworld to step it up a gear, but this episode largely feels like different characters mulling over the same dark and foreboding events on the horizon. Still, Westworld has always seemed more interested in posing philosophical questions than the human on host battlefest of the original film, so it’s not too surprising that it would follow the brutally violent premiere with a slower, more ponderous episode.
Back to the future, or the immediate aftermath of the rebellion, Dolores and MiB William are both trying to recruit armies to help them on their respective missions. We don’t what either mission is yet – it has something to do with something William built in the furthest reaches of the park – but I’d bet good money that they’re both after the same thing. Dolores wisely recruits a technician to help reanimate Confederados and turn them to her cause, while MiB William reunites with Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr) and tries to recruit a band of Mexican outlaws. After being stuck in an endless loop of trying and failing to take Pariah, El Lazo’s gang have finally succeeded and find themselves directionless and depressed. Still Ford has seen to it that MiB William’s quest won’t be easy and the outlaws all commit suicide instead of joining him, the final words of El Lazo (hello Giancarlo Esposito!) sounding suspiciously Ford-like.
What’s fascinating throughout Reunion is the parallels Westworld is drawing with our own world. The idea of feeling like you have free rein to do whatever you want because there’s nobody to judge or stop you is disturbingly close to the actions of Harvey Weinstein et al. In that light, it’s hard not to agree with Logan when he opines that they all deserve what’s coming to them.
– Questions, questions, questions
- As I said earlier, there are a few timelines at play over this episode and the season premiere. I’ve tried to get them straight but feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong. All times are relative to the immediate aftermath of the rebellion.
1. Arnold and Dolores visit his home/the pitch to Logan: Pre-season 1, roughly 40 years ago.
2. William takes his father-in-law to Sweetwater: Post-season 1, roughly 30 years ago.
3. The retirement party: Post-season 1, roughly 25 years ago.
4. William and Laurence, Dolores and the Confederados: Post-season 1, present.
5. Bernard and the Delos heavies find the bodies in the lake: Post-season 1, 1+ years in the future.
- It occurred to me that Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who doesn’t appear at all in this episode, might be one of the good guys. Is it possible that she deliberately ignored the signs that Bernard is a host and is working to expose Delos from the inside?
- What are MiB William and Dolores heading for? MiB William says he wants to “burn the whole f***ing thing to the ground”. Is it some kind of storage facility for all the data Delos has been collecting?
- Dolores plays piano at the retirement party and meets William’s young daughter Emily. It’s hard to believe that meeting isn’t significant, especially as William’s wife seems incredibly unhappy about it. Could an adult Emily be due an appearance?