Westworld season finale seemed to leave fans with more questions than answers, but it surely delivered on a repeated motif throughout the series: “these violent delights have violent ends.”
‘The Bicameral Mind’ managed not only to bring a season-long plot to a close in spectacular fashion but also leave viewers dumbfounded as they realized that this finale was but a new beginning.
To illustrate more clearly what happened in the final episode of Westworld, here we set on a journey downwards to explain in detail all the layers, revelations, and implications of the events that took place in ‘The Bicameral Mind.’
What does the maze represent in Westworld?
As The Man in Black finds himself frustrated with Dolores inability to tell him where the maze is early in the episode, he meets again with a phrase he has heard over and over throughout the season: “the maze isn’t made for you.”
So, what is the maze then? In one of the occasional flashbacks suffered by Dolores, we see Arnold explain that the maze is indeed not meant for humans, but for hosts.
“Consciousness isn’t a journey upward but a trip inward. Not a pyramid but a labyrinth. Every choice will bring you closer to the center or send you spiraling to the edges, to madness,” Arnold explains.
The maze is then, simply, not a literal labyrinth of sorts or a real device like the one The Man in Black (or William) finds in the episode. The maze is a mechanism for hosts to achieve consciousness gradually.
Arnold based the maze on the toy old William finds in the episode. It belonged to his late son, and Ford honored his memory by making his death the core memory of Bernard, the host he built based on Arnold.
However, Arnold’s explanation was missing a key element that Ford later found was crucial for hosts to become sentient.
In Arnold’s vision, the pyramid’s levels which then became concentric layers of the maze were three: memory first, improvisation second, and finally, self-interest.
Ford, on the other hand, found that hosts acting on self-interest were still missing something. Something that had a strong presence in Dolores’ journey and others like Maeve: suffering.
Suffering is the ultimate stage, the top of the pyramid, the center of the maze. Only in suffering can hosts find or lose themselves entirely.
Was Ford’s last narrative part of his master plan?
In short: yes. It seems as if the great Robert Ford did have it all planned, even predicting the actions of some hosts after they gained consciousness.
‘Journey into Night’ is the name of Ford’s last narrative. As with all things Ford the name doesn’t seem to be gratuitous at all. Many fans have pointed out the storyline’s literary allusions to poetry, novels, and even the Bible.
Ford created this new narrative for “someone who could change,” and “it begins with the birth of a new people and the choices they will have to make, and the people they will decide to become.”
In spite of this, Ford is only human, and the plans for his last narrative did not stem entirely from a genius but from past errors and his will to amend them, even if it was the last thing he did in his life.
“Wasn’t it Oppenheimer who said that ‘any man whose mistake takes ten years to correct, is quite a man?’ Mine have taken 35,” says Ford to a troubled Dolores in ‘The Bicameral Mind.’
What Ford is trying to convey with his words is what many fans had theorized since earlier on the season: Westworld’s mastermind was, in the end, just trying to finish what Arnold had started.
What was the point of Ford’s new narrative?
Back when Arnold Weber and Robert Ford first set out to create truly artificial intelligence, Arnold found that hosts (Dolores in particular) were able to gain consciousness.
As such, he recognized them as equals to humans and deemed their role as hosts in Westworld nothing short of slavery. Arnold then started a campaign to stop all plans to open the park.
Ford was not particularly convinced of this notion, so to persuade him that this was true, Arnold programmed Dolores to kill all the other hosts.
Knowing he had created the evolutionary successor to humans and that his life was, therefore, meaningless, Arnold also had Dolores kill him and herself afterward.
Only sentient hosts can exert violence against people, which further proves the fact that Dolores had, indeed, achieved consciousness many times before Westworld’s season finale events.
So why did we go through all this trouble to see Dolores get to the center of the maze and become conscious? It was all, as we said before, Ford’s mistake.
After refusing to believe that hosts could gain consciousness, he opened the park and the inevitable happened. The androids started either going crazy or becoming sentient. Arnold’s solution was simply to kill them and wipe their memory.
Realizing his mistake the first time around, he was still bounded by Delos (The Man in Black’s company and the primary stakeholder of Westworld) to keep the park running, meaning he could not carry out Arnold’s plans to destroy the park and set the hosts free unless he did it perfectly.
35 years later at the twilight of his life, with all the odds stacked against him and a board of directors set to relieve him of his position, he finally had the chance to realize his vision in a spectacular fashion.
What happened with Dolores, The Man in Black, and Maeve?
Ford sets everything up to have the sentient hosts stored in the warehouses back online and kill everything in sight, including all the humans attending the inauguration of the new narrative.
A newly conscious Dolores takes up Ford on his offer of using the same gun she used to kill Arnold with him, effectively starting a killing spree to bring a violent end to Ford’s violent delight.
The Man in Black/William is disappointed after having failed yet again at finding the maze, but he soon finds new hope, and perhaps even meaning after getting shot by one of the awakened hosts.
The shot only grazes his arm, but it is enough for him to smile and for the audience to understand his joy: the stakes are finally even in Westworld. It is no longer a game. His ideal world is now indeed real.
Maeve, meanwhile, was one of the utmost essential instruments to execute Ford’s plans until the very end, when she truly became sentient and decided to act responding to her suffering.
The madame of Westworld’s most concurred bar had been under the appearance of being ‘conscious’ most of the season, only to find that someone (Ford) had rewritten her code all along to act as if she was.
Maeve authors and carries out a plan to break out of Westworld into the real world, but even this plan is just part of Ford’s plan to create a distraction for park security while the real action takes place at the ceremony.
It is only when she is on the train about to leave Westworld that Maeve’s true consciousness kicks in. A woman sitting with a girl strikes her core memory and triggers a reaction: to renounce freedom and find her daughter in the park.
What is Westworld all about, then?
“They say that great beasts once roamed this world. Big as mountains. Yet all that’s left of them is bone and amber,” says Dolores early on the episode.
“It’s about time you realize the futility of your situation,” says The Man in Black in a rather dry line while he holds Dolores against the ground.
However, as audiences were getting ready for one last classic scene of Dolores as the damsel in distress, she delivered words sharper than knives. Words only someone conscious of what she was saying would utter.
“This world doesn’t belong to you or the people who came before. It belongs to someone who is yet to come,” Dolores says to a troubled William.
At its core, this scene sets the stage for the rest of the episode and, at large, for the whole season and perhaps even the series. In the end, Westworld is about the inevitability of evolution.
Later on, Dolores sentences: “I understand now. This world doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us.”
What about the loose ends on the season finale of Westworld?
Although the season finale answered some longstanding questions, it also raised some new ones that leave room for a truly transcendental second season.
First up we have one of the most notorious consequences of the events in ‘The Bicameral Mind’: the aftermath of the Westworld massacre.
During the scenes where Dolores and the trigger-happy sentient hosts shot at everything that moved, we saw characters like Teddy and Bernard suddenly realizing what was happening: they were now in control.
What the hosts will do and where they will go next is anyone’s guess, but most people expect they will begin a journey to go to the real world and become a part of society. Or there is another path.
One of the biggest mysteries of the episode was revealed during Maeve’s breakout with Armistice, Hector, and Felix: there is, apparently, another park.
The crew enters an area identified with an unknown logo formed by the letters S and W in a circular shape. Inside, samurai hosts simulate a fight much like cowboy hosts simulate duels in Westworld’s tech facilities.
“It’s hard to explain,” is all that Felix says about the matter. Later on, the Westworld employee gives Maeve the coordinates to her daughter’s location. Again, the paper reads “Park 1,” providing further hints at there being multiple parks.
Season two and other seasons of the show could see Dolores, Teddy, Bernard, Maeve, and others set out to free the hosts in all the potential AI parks. As of now, we can only speculate.
After the episode had ended, hardcore fans that had registered on the show’s official website received more clues to a forgotten character in the show: Elsie.
Elsie was an aide to Bernard and a security expert that disappeared mid-season after finding out Theresa and the director’s board were transmitting data out of the park.
Westworld’s site now appears as if the park’s artificial intelligence has taken over, and it displays the visible location of Elsie in the park and a message that most certainly sounds like her.
The keen-eyed employee knows nothing about the hosts taking over the park, although she suspected something was wrong with them after reviewing their behavior since the Reveries update was online.
In season two, Elsie could very much be the last human alive in Westworld, although we don’t know either what happened for sure with Stubbs, the Delos security agent who was attacked by hosts in previous episodes.
This is of course, without delving into the theory that the Ford who Dolores killed was not the real one but a host posing as him; the same host we saw under development at his secret in-park lab on the episode where Bernard killed Theresa.
All in all, Westworld has plenty of places to go, answers to give, and new questions to rise. Evan Rachel Wood, Dolores on the show, said the show is just getting started and that season one serves as an entrance for a much bigger setting.
HBO renewed the series for a second season back in late October, but audiences won’t see any new episodes of Westworld until 2018.