Last night I rewatched the last episode of Westworld season two. With season three coming in just a few weeks, I thought that as its been nearly two years now since the second season originally aired, I could do with a refresher to get me up to speed. Ideally I should watch both season one and two beforehand, and maybe I’ll still have a go at that, but with everything else going on, the odds against managing a complete rewatch are huge, so I went with the season two finale.
Silly me. Of course it was confusing. The episode tied up many of the various threads running through that season, but naturally on its own it left me floundering, clutching at what I could still remember from the series when I first watched it. As I remember, even when it first aired with the season fresh in my memory, it rather confused me. But it did manage a very good tease for the third season.
Westworld is a very good sci-fi show. Its perhaps a little too convoluted and obtuse for its own good, the play-through of several timelines concurrently often more confusing than illuminating, but I really do admire the ambition of the show. I like having to work at stuff. I find it challenging and refreshing. I have high hopes that the third season will reward my faith in it, and certainly the trailers have looked very promising. I’m reminded of Fringe, in that Westworld seems to be transforming into a different show entirely to the one it was when it began. I find that exciting.
The coda at the end of the episode was as fun and compelling as I remembered. We are in some (possibly far-distant) future, in which The Man In Black (a genuinely fantastic Ed Harris, its worth watching this show for him alone) is in some dusty ruins under the park, being interrogated by his daughter Emily, who he killed in an earlier season two episode. Death isn’t necessarily death in Westworld, as we have learned before- indeed, a secret purpose to Westworld was delivering immortality for the filthy rich who could afford it (shades of another genre curio, Altered Carbon, there). A subject’s intellect is captured and stored, and then placed into a ‘host’ simulacrum body and tested repeatedly for ‘fidelity’. The idea is that the restored individual thinks they are real and not a copy- once they begin to suspect the reality, the intellect rejects its situation and fails, breaks down, goes insane. The word ‘fidelity’ in the context used here is perfect but chilling, and the standout episode of the season (and one I really must rewatch) concerns the attempts over several decades of testing to restore James Delos, the owner of the Delos corporation whose quest for immortality was the real force behind the Westworld theme park and its research into AI. That particular episode was brilliant, and there are shades of it here. The Man In Black asks his dead daughter “How many times have you tested me?”, to which she replies “It’s been a long time, William. Longer than we thought. I have a few questions for you. The last step’s a baseline interview to allow us to verify.”
“Verify what?” he asks, no doubt suspecting, to which she answers, simply and chillingly, “Fidelity.”
Alas, this last episode of Westword is not enough for me; I haven’t sufficient fidelity to jump into season three just yet. More episodes will be necessary, no doubt, if I can find the time. Which strikes me as a little funny- time is everything in Westworld, character arcs happening in different timelines, and the mortal humans racing against time and death. Here’s me, challenged by time to re-watch this series- as many characters in the show do, I fear I have left it too late.