Westworld Phase Space review

Welcome to our weekly recaps of HBO’s Westworld. This Westworld review takes a look at the sixth episode of season 2, “Phase Space”. Be warned: spoilers follow.

westworld episode 2.06

Dolores

After a few back-to-back episodes where Dolores’ plotline felt like it was going nowhere fast, Westworld finally decides to kick things up a notch. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) has retrofitted the Sweetwater train into her own personal weapon, and she sends it barrelling right into the Westworld command center.

But first, we go back in time to the very first scene of Westworld season 2. Here, we see the conversation between Dolores, and Arnold…and we learn that all is not what it seems. It was safe to assume that this was a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Arnold testing Dolores. After all, Jeffrey Wright’s appearance in these scenes is much younger than normal, which usually indicates he’s playing the human Arnold, rather than his host-clone Bernard.

But after the man we think is Arnold gives Dolores a speech about having “a choice to make” – a choice between the unknown, and the end, Dolores cuts him off, and says: “He didn’t say that.” Then she issues the standard Westworld command: freeze all motor functions. And “Arnold” freezes.

So what’s going on here? Is this, in fact, Bernard? Or another robot host? And is this not the past after all, but the future? We don’t know yet, but we’ll probably find out…eventually.

Back in the main plot line, though, we see Dolores and her army gearing up for their big train attack on the Westworld command center. We also meet the new and improved Teddy Flood (James Marsden). Last week, Dolores had Teddy’s mind wiped because she thought he was too kind, too soft for their mission. This new Teddy is certainly neither of those things – he looks pissed off, and he’s not above blowing some hapless human’s brains out when he doesn’t get his way.

“The man who rode [the train into Sweetwater] was built weak and born to fail,” Teddy tells Dolores. “You fixed him.” Interestingly enough, Dolores doesn’t look pleased about this. After Teddy gives her that line, and later, after he kills a Westworld employee, Dolores looks genuinely unnerved. Perhaps she’s realizing wiping Teddy’s mind wasn’t such a good idea after all…

Dolores’ whole plan is still to find her father, Peter Abernathy. We catch back up with him this week – he’s also been brought to the Westworld command center by Charlotte Hale and Stubbs. There, Hale has Abernathy literally nailed down to a chair to keep him still and in place while she waits to extract the big, secret data in his head. Stubbs looks put off by all this, indicating he has some sort of compassion for the hosts. Compassion that Charlotte and the upper-tier Delos employees definitely do not have.

maeve phase space

Maeve

Back in Shogun World, most of the Shogun’s men have been slaughtered by Maeve (Thandie Newton), and the few that are still around are easily dispatched. We’re just about done with Shogun World, but first, we have to watch Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) engage in a duel with another samurai.

As entertaining (and bloody) as this duel is, it feels like a big waste of time. An action beat thrown in to wake up anyone who might be dozing. And once it’s done, everyone is on the move again. And soon almost all the Westworld inhabitants are parting ways with the Shogun World characters.

Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) cuts out the heart of Sakura (Kiki Sukezane) to cremate it, and she and Maeve share a tender goodbye. Akane is a great character, and I hope we see more of her, but I still can’t help but feel like the diversion to Shogun World was a bit needless. Sure, it opened the world of Westworld up a bit, but we’re already done with it. We’re moving on, and so is Maeve.

After departing Shogun World, Maeve and company end up back in Westworld proper, and Maeve is finally reunited with her daughter.

Except, of course, her “daughter” has no idea who she is. Why would she? Instead, she thinks a completely different host character is her mother – a reveal that may seem obvious to us, but clearly destroys Maeve, emotionally. After all this time, her journey was seemingly for nothing.

The reunion is short-lived anyway, because members of Ghost Nation come riding in on the warpath.

Or do they? Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), the Ghost Nation leader, corners Maeve and tells her that they’re on the same path. Maeve doesn’t want to hear it, though, and runs off with her “daughter” in hand. Her daughter, meanwhile, is understandably alarmed and calling for her “real” mother. What a mess this all is.

Meanwhile, annoying twit Lee Sizemore breaks out the phone/walkie-talkie he found in the last episode and calls for help.

man in black and daughter

The Man In Black

We get to check back in with The Man in Black (Ed Harris), his party, and his daughter, Emily (aka Grace) (Katja Herbers). The Man In Black is, at first, convinced that this isn’t his real daughter at all, but rather a host that Robert Ford created to throw him off.

Later, however, the Man In Black and Emily have a heart-to-heart by a campfire. Emily attempts an apology of sorts, telling her father that she no longer holds him accountable for the death of her mother. The Man In Black seems genuinely moved by this, and also caught off guard. “I’m not going to let you stay here now and go out in some bullshit blaze of glory,” Emily tells him, and adds that all she wants is to get him out of the park and take him home. The Man In Black agrees to go with her. But of course, when morning comes, he’s long gone, leaving Emily behind.

It’s a poorly handled reveal. The heart-to-heart scene worked well, and Ed Harris’ subtle acting sells the Man In Black’s inner turmoil. Yet, even though we all could’ve guessed he wouldn’t give up that easy, the way his departure is handled seems rather…dull. The scene simply cuts to Emily waking up and finding her father gone, and then we’re off to the next scene. It feels cheap.

bernard elsie

Bernard

The biggest twist of the evening involves Bernard. But it’s probably a twist we all saw coming.

Bernard and Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) end up back at the Westworld command center, and try to gain control of the system. But as Elsie reveals, something called “The Cradle” keeps blocking any attempts to get Westworld back online.

The Cradle is a hive mind, where the consciousness of the park and all the hosts are kept. Bernard has one of his “Is this now?” moments, revealing that he’s been here before, and that he brought something…or someone – the control unit we saw him create in “The Riddle of the Sphinx.”

To get to the bottom of everything, Bernard has Elsie hook him up to the Cradle. This takes Bernard into a simulated Westworld, where he’s reunited with an old friend – Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins).

Yes, that’s right – Ford is still alive. Sort of. His old physical body may be dead, but he was smart enough to upload his consciousness into the Cradle before he had Dolores blow his brains out.

Even though this was a predictable twist, it’s handled exceptionally well, and it’s nice to have Anthony Hopkins back in some capacity.

teddy phase space

Stray Observations and Questions

  • I’ve seen other people complain that Westworld season 2 has become too confusing. I didn’t share this opinion, as I was finding this season relatively easy to follow. That changed this week, primarily due to the mysterious scene between Dolores and Arnold/Bernard. I’m puzzled by this moment, and not sure what to make of it. My only guess is that it’s a glimpse into the future, rather than the past.
  • What the heck is Ghost Nation up to? They keep popping up, but their purpose remains a mystery.
  • What if Emily really does turn out to be a robot, as the Man In Black first suspected? What if everyone on this show is a robot? What if we’re all robots?
  • Speaking of Emily, I know I’m in the minority here, but I really do not care for Katja Herbers’ performance. Her line delivery seems stiff and unnatural to me, and it’s starting to become grating. 
Cool Posts From Around the Web: