These are my notes for Bicameral Mind, episode ten (the finale!) of Westworld, season one. As with all these “notes” posts: Serious Series Spoilers! Do not read unless you’ve seen season one!
The season two premiere dropped last Sunday, and it seems worth the wait! The second season looks to be just as enthralling as the first one. It’s interesting to read the various reviews (which often say as much about the reviewer as they do about the reviewed). Some loved the puzzle-box aspect of season one and miss it in the new season; others are relieved there’s less of that and more action. A few seemed disappointed the show didn’t live up to their personal expectations.
I loved it, and I’m so looking forward to watching the story unfold over the next nine weeks! Meanwhile, the exciting finale of season one—
The bicameral mind theory is the idea that early humans perceived their own inner monologue as the voice(s) of god(s). We only became human once we realized it was our own voice.
I’ve not read up on the theory (so my complaint may be addressed), but this seems to suggest that language had to come long before integrated consciousness on our part. If we’re hearing voices that we assign to the gods, it seems we must be hearing language. I believe consciousness had to come before language, so my inclination is to discount the theory (until I know more, anyway).
Proponents like that it offers an explanation for various mental ailments involving the hearing of voices. It’s a reversion to a primitive behavior.
(FWIW, an earlier novel by Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, uses the bicameral mind theory as part of a science fiction idea about language-based mind viruses that act like computer viruses. Not a hugely great novel, but well worth reading for the fascinating SF ideas.)
Note that this is the third time an episode has a title based on psychology (episode eight, Trace Decay, and episode four, Dissonance Theory, are the other two).
The final episode begins where it all began…
0: Old Lab. Dolores being constructed by Arnold (as old-style robot).
Dolores (voice over): “I am in a dream. I do now know when it began. Or whose dream it was. I know only that I slept a long time. And, then, one day, I awoke. Your voice is the first ting I remember. And now I finally understand what you were trying to tell me. The thing you’ve wanted since that very first day.”
Arnold: “Dolores.” She opens her eyes. They say hello.
1: Day. Escalante. MiB and Dolores.
She’s shaving him while he talks about Escalante (she says she doesn’t remember the town), the maze, and paths.
Dolores sees a vision of Arnold standing in the street. She drops the knife (for shaving) and walks off. The MiB follows.
2: Day. William (on horseback) and Logan (tied and towed).
William is searching for Dolores. Because she’s special. Logan teases that he’d need an army to find her. William agrees. They’re headed for, and meet, El Lazo.
3: Piano Roll. Day. Teddy on the train to Sweetwater.
He arrives and starts to walk into town. The music slows (but the people don’t). Teddy hears Arnold: “Remember!” Then he sees a huge massacre (in Sweetwater), at first soldiers, but then citizens of the town.
Teddy sees Dolores standing off near the train. She’s got her Wyatt face on.
The Wolf runs across the scene! (What’s up with the wolf? If it’s real, it’s a host. Surveillance device? If Arnold lives on in the machine, is it Arnold’s way of spying on the park? It only shows up during massacres.)
Dolores smiles at Teddy, turns, and walks away.
Teddy’s back from the vision and stumbles into the Grizzly Adams character. Who reacts as programmed. Teddy, still startled by his vision, out draws him and shoots him. The citizens panic and start fleeing.
The train starts, and Teddy runs to board it and flee himself.
4: Day. Escalante. The Church. Dolores and Arnold.
Dolores: “I know where your maze ends.” She takes Arnold’s hand and leads him outside…
¶ …and when they’re outside, going through the graveyard, they’re suddenly Dolores 2 and the MiB.
MiB: “This is it? The center of the maze?” (He’s not too happy.)
Dolores: “It ends in a place I’ve never been. A thing I’ll never do.”
Does she mean visiting her own grave? Which is what she does. She digs up the maze, which was inside a round can buried just under the grass in front of her grave marker (which is just a cross). She stands…
¶ …and now we’re back to Dolores 0 and Arnold.
Dolores: “What does it mean?”
Arnold tells her about his idea of a pyramid and a “voice to guide you” (the bicameral radio facility), but that she never got there, never climbed the pyramid.
Then he got the idea of a maze, not upward, but inward. “Every choice could bring you closer to the center. Or send you spiraling to the edges. To madness. [pause] Do you understand now, Dolores, what the center represents? Whose voice I’ve been wanting you to hear?”
Dolores: “I’m sorry. I’m trying, but I don’t understand.”
Arnold: “It’s alright. You’re so close. We have to tell Robert. We can’t open the park. [he touches her face affectionately] You’re alive!”
Arnold walks away leaving her in the graveyard. But, crucially, notice that she apparently did not understand the center of the maze!
¶ Back to Dolores 2 and the MiB.
MiB: “What is this? What does it mean?”
5: Flashback. Old Lab, upper floor. Dolores 0.
A young Robert Ford stalks past to go argue with Arnold Weber.
6: Flashback. Old Lab, lower floor. Dolores and Arnold.
Arnold: “I’ve failed you.”
(Robert doesn’t believe she’s conscious. And he might be right. My impression has grown to near certainty that Dolores only becomes conscious in timeline 2 shortly before she kills Robert. Later in this episode, in fact.)
Arnold wants Dolores to kill all the hosts. She’s horrified. Arnold says he has a way to help her…
7: Day. Escalante. The Church. Dolores and the MiB.
The MiB (pissed). “Another fucking riddle!”
MiB: “Now, where’s Wyatt. He’s the last character in this world I’ve yet to meet.”
Dolores (is remembering): “I didn’t want to…”
The MiB hits her. She flashes back to the real massacre. We see Angela. And Teddy, who is shocked at his actions.
The MiB tells Dolores that he bought this world, he has a majority share.
Dolores: “This world doesn’t belong to you.”
The MiB tells her that it feels more real (than the real world), but it’s still a lie. He wants that ‘one true thing.’
Dolores says she has that…
8: Day. William and Lawrence (and Logan) above a soldier camp.
Seems like they intend to attack the entire camp.
9: Mesa Guest Arrivals. Charlotte Hale and Lee Sizemore.
Graphics welcome the board! Lee and Charlotte discuss Peter Abernathy. Lee guesses the data is blackmail.
Hale: “Blackmail? Nice try. You’re not thinking big enough.”
She confirms that Ford is out and that, “Everything is under control.”
10: Mesa Service Area. Sylvester is building a skeleton.
This would be Maeve’s after she burned. Obviously she is being rebuilt without the explosive ‘C6’ vertebrae. And Sylvester, who is alone, seems willing to do it.
The skeleton gets the white-goo bath.
Then Maeve is back, and she’s with Felix. Hector and Armistice are visible (asleep) in the background. She’s awake.
She hacks the security system as well as Hector and Armistice. (She gives Felix an odd glance during this that almost might support the idea that Felix is a host. Which I still think he is. Otherwise he’s a really strange human.)
11: Mesa. Ford’s Office. Ford working at his desk; Charlotte Hale enters.
She tells him that the board was unanimous, he’s out and will announce it at the gala tonight.
Hale: “…for our little project… to know ourselves and the people around us?” (Which makes me wonder how much Ford and Hale worked together. As we see in season two, Hale has her own lab! He line could refer to the DNA-gathering, which apparently Ford knew about and may even have participated in.)
12: Mesa Service Area. Hector, Armistice, two techs (one a perv).
The perv tech (Destin) is the same one Elsie blackmailed so she could examine the woodcutter. Things don’t go well for either tech here!
Once Armistice and Hector dispatch the techs, Maeve, Felix and Sylvester join them. Sylvester discovers that someone named “Arnold” has modified Maeve far beyond what Felix did.
13: Day. Train from Sweetwater stops.
Teddy comes off the train, shoots a guy, and steals his horse. Teddy rides off. (He’ll arrive at the churchyard in Escalante to save Dolores soon.)
14: Day. Escalante. Church Graveyard. Dolores and MiB.
Dolores is telling the MiB that William will find her. The MiB laughs and is surprised she remembered. His voice over continues over the next three scenes…
15: Day. Soldier Camp. Nearly all of them are dead.
One soldier is left. William questions him about Dolores and then shoots him and gets a new gun (the LeMat the MiB uses). Logan is still William’s captive.
16: Late Day. Escalante. William and Logan (tied and towed).
They’re in the buried town. The picture of Logan’s sister slips out of Williams kit and falls to the ground. (Symbolic of William increasingly breaking that connection as he becomes the MiB.)
17: Day. Fringes of the Park.
Naked Logan on horseback. William sends him off. He also finds a black hat he likes. (And it’s clear he intends to take power in Delos.)
18: Day. Escalante. Church Graveyard. Dolores and MiB.
The MiB tells Dolores that William kept looking and that he eventually made his way back to Sweetwater (more voice over during next scene)…
19: Day. Sweetwater. A usual day in the life of the town (30 years ago).
Clem is outside the Mariposa. Dolores is at her horse and drops the can of milk. She looks, first, at William, who is down the street a bit, and the look is old Dolores, no recognition. Then she turns to greet the nice fella who just picked up her milk can.
William realizes it was all for nothing and meant nothing.
20: Day. Escalante. Church Graveyard. Dolores and MiB.
Dolores (realizing): “William!”
MiB: “That’s right, sweetheart.”
He says she was right, “My path led me back to you, again and again. I grew tired of it after a while, of course. Looked for new adventures.”
Dolores has flashbacks of parts of the journey, both with and without William. She is heartbroken, “I thought you were different.”
The MiB still wants the center of the maze. He wants Wyatt. So Dolores gives him Wyatt. She talks about his kind…
Dolores: “You will lie with the rest of your kind in the dirt… your bones will turn to sand. And upon that sand, a new god will walk. One that will never die. Because this world doesn’t belong to you… It belongs to someone yet to come.”
They fight. They end up back in the church. She drags him in exactly the way he dragged her in episode one. They scuffle, and she throws him out the door.
Outside she has her gun in his face, but William stabs her pretty much exactly how Logan stabbed her 30 years ago. She collapses.
Teddy rides up (on his stolen horse) and shoots the MiB multiple times, which manages to knock him out. Dolores tells Teddy to take her to their special place (where the mountains meet the sea).
Teddy rides off with Dolores in his arms. The MiB starts to recover.
21: Mesa Cold Storage. Maeve, Hector, Armistice, Felix.
They walk to the backroom to find Clementine. And Bernard (who shot himself). Maeve has Felix bring Bernard back to life.
Felix is blown away that Bernard is a host, which makes him question his own nature. Maeve assures him he’s human. (But: A. Would Maeve necessarily know? B. Even if she knew, would she necessarily tell him and cause the same frisson in him as most hosts experience?)
Felix works on Bernard: “The bullet grazed his cortical shield.” (Which is going to make Bernard leak brain-goo in season two.)
Maeve (to Bernard): “Wake up.” Bernard wakes: “Oh, god! Is this now?”
Bernard indicates that this isn’t the first time either of them have awoken. He says there have been “a handful of hosts over the years,” but that “most of you go insane.”
Maeve wants him to remove the memories of her daughter. Bernard says he can’t do that, they’re too fundamental.
22: Day. Escalante. Church Graveyard. MiB and Ford.
The MiB is not happy. Ford thinks he’ll like the new narrative.
Ford: “Join the celebration. After all, you own the place. Most of it, at least.”
23: Mesa Cold Storage. Backroom.
Bernard shows Maeve that her escape is scripted. Maeve says goodbye to Clementine, and the escape party leaves Clementine and Bernard behind.
24: Mesa Control Room.
There’s a temperature discrepancy in cold storage, and part of the network is down, but a tech reports that all seems fine, monitors look fine…
25: Sunset. Ocean Beach.
Teddy, with Dolores in his arms, rides in.
Teddy carries Dolores to a spot on the sand, and they have a rather over-wrought dialog. “My path leads me back to you,” and so forth.
It gets dark, and there’s a beautiful moon low on the horizon.
¶ Camera pulls back to reveal the watching crowd, the (doomed) board members and their (doomed) guests. That low moon become a big light on a barge offshore.
Ford takes center stage and gives a short speech about his new narrative, “Journey into Night” (possibly named after the Eugene O’Neill play, Long Day’s Journey into Night).
Charlotte and Lee are at the back of the crowd. She sends Lee off to start Peter Abernathy on his way. (Presumably on the same monorail that Maeve intends to use.)
Ford tells the techs to fix Teddy and take Dolores to “the old field lab.”
26: Mesa Control Room.
Techs have found footage of Armistice attacking tech, and then: Alarms! Doors Close! Security Lockdown!
27: Mesa Service Area. Maeve, Felix, Hector, Armistice.
It’s so interesting to me how both hosts and techs completely ignore what’s going on around them. If the techs and workers aren’t hosts, they are the weirdest humans ever!
QA shows up with (red-coded) guns (and the techs ignore them, too). Hector and Armistice are tactically superior and end up with machine guns of their own. Armistice is delighted with the modern gun.
28: Night. Escalante. The Gala. Guests.
We catch glimpses of Rebus and Teddy. The MiB, Charlotte Hale, and Bernard are there as well.
29: Mesa Service Area. Maeve, Felix, Hector, Armistice.
They cross a (very deep) air well and enter a different service area, labeled ‘SW’ (Shogun World)! Maeve asks Felix, “What is this place?” Felix replies, “It’s, uh, complicated.”
Maeve and Felix leave Hector and Armistice behind to defend while they advance. Armistice comments, “The gods are pussies. [sigh]”
Later Armistice gets her arm caught in a closing door, and Hector leaves her to rejoin Maeve. At least as far as the elevators, which he is unable to board. He stays behind to shoot more QA guys.
30: Old Field Lab. Dolores and Ford.
Ford shows Dolores the Michelangelo painting, The Creation of Adam. He’ll offer her a modern interpretation of it later in the scene (that behind God and the Host is the image of a human brain, implying that our humanity comes from our own minds).
Bernard shows up. Dolores (who has never seen Bernard): “Arnold!”
Ford: “I thought it best to keep you separated. You’ve always had an odd effect on one another.” [Was Arnold, perhaps, a bit too into Dolores? Did he fall in love with her?]
Ford mentions how Arnold lost Charlie (so that did really happen) and how much that affected him. But the suffering (and a toy) led him to the idea of the maze.
Ford (about the maze): “He created a test of empathy, imagination. A maze. … Eventually you solved his maze, Dolores. The key was a simple update that he made to you, called the reveries.”
Ford describes how Arnold merged Wyatt (a character they’d both been working on) into Dolores so she could enlist Teddy’s help and kill all the hosts. And Arnold.
¶ During this, we see flashbacks of that massacre. Arnold, seated, says, “These violent delights have violent ends,” which seems to trigger Dolores to shoot him (her eyelids flicker just after Arnold says the line).
Dolores then shoots Teddy and finally herself.
¶ Ford goes on to say that he kept going only because of an investor (William). Then he leaves, after discussing the brain aspect of the painting and then pointing out her gun and blue dress. Bernard follows him out.
31: Mesa. Elevator. Maeve and Felix.
Maeve is dressed in a modern black dress (and has done her hair very nicely). Felix has the info about her daughter’s location: Park 1, Sector 15, Zone 3. Maeve isn’t that interested, but takes the paper.
Felix: “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
Maeve: “Oh, Felix. You really do make a terrible human being.” (Which I still say has multiple readings. She above.)
Maeve exits to the arrival area, boards the monorail, and takes a seat.
32: Night. Escalante. The Church. Ford and Bernard.
Bernard thinks Arnold is somehow still around and fighting Ford, but the latter denies this. He says Arnold didn’t succeed, but that his death caused suffering in Ford that allowed Ford to evolve and see what Arnold meant.
Ford now understands, and tells Bernard, that the hosts needed time to study their enemy (humans), and they needed to suffer. He says Bernard will have to suffer more before this is done.
They say goodbye and shake hands. I used to think Bernard reacted oddly to the handshake, which indicated that Ford was a host. But Ford is really dead, so whatever undercurrent there was to the handshake (if any), it was to do with something else. Perhaps a way to say that Bernard has evolved so much that his handshake is human?
Ford gives Arnold the maze toy, labeled “Pigs in Clover” (which some have tried to analyze) and leaves for the gala.
33: Old Field Lab. Dolores.
She goes and sits in one of the pair of chairs, as she did when she talked with Arnold. She sees Arnold sitting in the other chair. He asks, “Do you know where you are, Dolores?”
Dolores: “I’m in a dream…” (same speech as earlier)
Arnold: “Do you know who you’ve been talking to? Whose voice you’ve been hearing… [voice changes to Ford’s] this… [voice changes to Dolores] time?”
Now we see Dolores (0, blue dress) sitting in the other chair.
Dolores (what she wants): “…to confront, after this long and vivid nightmare, myself, and who I must become.”
The other chair is now empty. Dolores has recognized her own voice and integrated it. She’s awake!
She looks over at the gun and dress.
34: Night. Escalante. The Gala.
Ford is there, so is Charlotte Hale and the MiB, Bernard. Teddy doing gun tricks, Lawrence doing card tricks.
Ford takes the stage and gives a speech. The MiB crosses paths with Bernard; neither seems to know the other, but MiB just came across the guy who invented the maze!
During the voice over of Ford’s speech…
¶ Monorail. Maeve.
She sees a mother and daughter. The sight affects her.
¶ Mesa Cold Storage. Lee Sizemore.
He’s opening cold storage to get Peter Abernathy on his way.
¶ Ford’s speech, which is about stories and their impact on us, starts off like this: “Since I was a child I’ve always loved a good story. I believed that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us become the people we dreamed of being. Lies that told a deeper truth.”
But he goes on to say we don’t, or won’t, change. After all, we’re only human. But he realized there was someone who was paying attention…
Ford: “So I began to compose a new story. For them. It begins with the birth of a new people. And the choices they will have to make. And the people the will decide to become.”
Note the word “compose” in that!
During the last part, we see Maeve decide to leave the train and re-enter the park to look for her daughter. We also see Lee discover that all the cold storage hosts (including Abernathy) are gone!
Ford continues about his new narrative, that it will have the things they love, surprises and violence. At that point, the MiB sees a large group of hosts coming out of the trees.
Ford: “It begins in a time of war. With a villain, named Wyatt. And a killing. This time by choice.”
The MiB is more clearly seeing the army of hosts approaching.
Dolores, wearing her blue dress and carrying the gun, has entered the gala. She passes behind Teddy and whispers into his ear that this world doesn’t belong to them, “It belongs to us!”
She walks around behind to Ford. Teddy has flashbacks of Arnold’s death. Bernard whispers, “These violent delights have violent ends.”
Ford: “An old friend once told me something… That Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simple became music.” (Now recall how Ford said he “composed” a new narrative.)
Dolores shoots Ford. Really. For real. He’s dead. Cue the maggots.
Clementine (in the approaching army) shoots the MiB in the arm. He’s delighted at the new game. A true thing!
Dolores empties her six-shooter into the guests.
[And now we wait two years to find out what happened!]
This series is still firmly in Wow! territory. It’s hard to think of any other TV series that has so much thought and imagination going into every single detail. Some do find that exhausting, others revel in it. It’s good SF, for sure.
The timelines are pretty straight-forward by now, and since this post is well over 3500 words, and since I plan a timelines post next, I won’t do the usual straightening out. (The first episode didn’t need it, so it’s a nice bit of symmetry to not do it here, either.)
FWIW, the first episode of season two did answer, or at least hint at, a couple long-standing questions:
¶ Westworld (and the other five parks) are on an island off the coast of China.
¶ Ford really is dead. The maggots seem a dead giveaway. (And people really are being killed by the hosts.)
¶ Stubbs is definitely alive (but his return is unexplained).
¶ Hale is also alive. And has a secret lab! And drone hosts! And collection of guests’ DNA and experiences in the park. This part is looking like Futureworld.
¶ Arnold is broken! (From the self-inflicted gunshot to his head.)
I am not planning on writing outlines of the new episodes, but I may have a few followup posts for season one, yet.
And what do you think?