Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) wants to destroy it, Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) and the Delos board need to save it, and whether or not the location hides the solution to the game the Man in Black (Ed Harris) believes Ford (Anthony Hopkins) created for him, whoever gets to the valley first will win something. Will it be autonomy for the hosts? Immortality for the humans? Or the answer to Ford’s interminable riddle?
The finale episode ” The Passenger” jumps around in time as frequently as the episodes this season, so while in the opening scene Dolores and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) are back in a control room, with Dolores testing Bernard’s fidelity, they are also elsewhere. She’s reaching a conclusion about the nature of host immortality — maybe the small discrepancies between the original person and their host incarnation are not such a bad thing. Perhaps, she wonders, these small changes in each incarnation could be like an individual’s evolution. Bernard, somewhere else in time and alone again, rides out to the desert — to the Valley Beyond.
Elsewhere in the timeline, Dolores extracts Teddy’s (James Marsden) unharmed command center from his host’s head, along with the bullet that he shot at it. She loads a gun with it and points it at the Man in Black, still digging at his forearm in a field. “It seems you’ve begun to question the nature of your reality,” Dolores tells him. She hands him a gun and takes him with her on the pilgrimage to the Valley Beyond. The Ghost Nation and Delos board too are en route to the valley, the latter led by Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) whose God-mode is their only shot at regaining control of their creations. But the other host with omniscient powers is also headed their way. Maeve (Thandie Newton) escapes nears dismemberment thanks to host allies, and they unleash a heard of animatronic bulls at the Delos security team — in one shot, reminiscent of the bull being crafted in slow motion in the opening credits. Here that same bull falls in the same pattern, but this time in pursuit of his human target.
Bernard has arrived at valley first, closely pursued by members of a Delos security team. In third place are Dolores and the Man in Black, who come from behind to take out the whole security team with just a few bullets. Dolores reveals that she is the one recreated Bernard to be a version of Arnold and that her alternations to Teddy’s personality weren’t her first — she edited Arnold’s original drives too, to suit her purposes. The Man in Black, thinking he has once again used Dolores for all she is worth, tries to kill her, but is unsuccessful. Bernard and Dolores make their way underground. This facility holds the huge amount of data that Delos has collected on all its guests — their “minds.”
The episode flashes forward to a moment later in the timeline, when Bernard and members of the Delos corp also explore the facility, and discover the body of Dolores dead on the ground. The team mentions that it must have been Dolores who flooded the valley. The Delos team is also still in pursuit of Abernathy, who holds some important data they required.
Flashback — if you can really call it that in this outrageously nonlinear episode — reveals that Dolores and Bernard unencrypted the guest data and made their way into the Forge. The Forge manifests as a replica of the fidelity-testing environment Delos was seen in earlier this season. When they step outside the room within the Forge, they are in what appears to be the park. Dolores sees herself, and the town of Sweet Water. With further exploration, they find themselves inside of Delos’ memories at a party.
Dolores and Bernard come upon Delos’ son, Logan (Ben Barnes), who claims to be the “system” controlling this place. He had to build perfect copies of the guests, ones that made the same choices they did in the park. But Logan discovers it is the guests’ memories that are most formative, not their choices. The human/host hybrids that failed were “too complicated.” Humans are a “brief algorithm,” one that has enabled Logan to recreate every guest who ever visited the park. The trio comes to a library with the minds of everyone — a tool for the hosts to gain the upper-hand in their battle against the humans, by learning the inner-workings of the human psyche.
The hosts, Logan reveals, will soon have a choice. They can either fight the humans for “reality,” or escape through Akecheta’s (Zahn McClarnon) door to an untouched, virtual Eden that Ford left for them. As this is revealed, a chasm like a crack in a mirror opens within the valley. This is the Forge. Dolores immediately rejects it and returns to the park, where she begins to delete the guest data. Bernard demands to know why Dolores would destroy not only the guest data but also the Eden Ford created as an escape for the hosts. Dolores tells Bernard there is no substitute for reality and continues to delete furiously. “You woke me from a dream,” she tells Bernard, “now let me do the same for you.” “This isn’t a dream,” Bernard responds, “it’s a f*cking nightmare.” He squeezes the trigger, killing Dolores. Bernard reverses the deletion of guest data.
Outside, hosts pour into the Forge, to their Eden, but Charlotte releases Clementine upon them (on a white horse — “who needs four horsemen when one will do just fine,” Charlotte sneers) before most can make it inside. She triggers the hosts to start killing each other. Even when Clementine is shot down, the virus that makes hosts turn on one another continues to spread. Maeve runs through the crowd, in search of her daughter. “You carry my heart with you,” Maeve tells her before Akecheta pulls her daughter and the new mother away to the safety of the Forge. Maeve freezes the fighting long enough to see their escape and is then shot down by a Delos security team member. Akecheta narrowly escapes himself, before the chasm closes behind him. His “dead” body falls with a bullet through his back, but his virtual “mind” is whole within the Forge.
The timelines finally cohere as the valley begins to flood, setting the scene for the bodies that would later wash up on a “shore” in other places in the Westworld season two timeline. Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and Bernard leave, only to have a confrontation over whether or not she did the right thing by helping Charlotte to regain control of the park. It turns out she did not, because Charlotte shoots her in cold blood for not having the kind of “moral flexibility” that Charlotte needs.
Bernard is devastated and begs Ford to come back despite having deleted his files. Ford grants his wish and appears, if only as a metaphor for Bernard’s own self-determination. “Ford” helps Bernard draws a parallel between hosts and humans, both experiencing free will only as an illusion, merely passengers. Now the last of his kind, Bernard asks for Ford’s help. Ford helps him create a host version of Charlotte Hale, who Dolores embodies. Bernard reveals he scrambled his memories to prevent the humans from learning what he did.
Dolores, now inside the body of Charlotte Hale, boards a raft bound for the mainland. Ashley (Luke Hemsworth) — a much maligned and easily passed over security guard for most of this season — reveals in the episode’s final moments that he may know Charlotte/Dolores is a host, but as far as everyone else is concerned, she is passing for human. Inside her bag, she has many copies of host minds. What she will do with them may only be revealed in Season Three.
Something of an epilogue reveals Bernard again being quizzed by Dolores, back in her own body, She reveals that Arnold left the technology required to build more host bodies for them in the real world. Dolores is joined by Charlotte Hale — but is Charlotte a copy of Dolores, or another person entirely? Additionally, the Man in Black awakens in his own nightmare — a fidelity test being administered by his daughter, who is somehow still alive. William/The Man in Black, however, is now a host. Season three seems primed to explore what happens with the hosts step outside the park’s boundaries, and what happens when humans transcend the limitations of their physical bodies in favor of host-like immortality.
This episode concludes Westworld‘s second season on HBO. Missed last week’s recap? Catch up here.
The Passenger was written by creators Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye
Photos and video credit courtesy of HBO.
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