Saddle up! But beware potential spoilers in this review, which will discuss elements of the episode.
Dolores and the MIB
Note: given how the characters' stories blended through the episode, these sections will have more crossover than usual. We started with Dolores, so it seems right, given the park (and the show's) penchant for loops that we end the first season with her featured prominently. A common complaint about Westworld is that there are no characters to root for in the series, but we'd again state that it takes a heart of stone not to feel for Dolores as she struggles with her reality, her consciousness and the sheer level of manipulation of everyone around her. We cheered when she started truly fighting back against the Man In Black... Or, as so many have guessed... William (perhaps the clue is in the first letter of his name: "M" upside down looks a lot like "W"). Evan Rachel Wood has been an emotional lynchpin here, and the finale offered her the chance to run the gamut of Dolores' reactions - shock, horror, badassery, a slow awakening... And then the knife is twisted (literally in her case) once again when Ed Harris' driven MIB gets the better of her. And that's only mid-way through the episode! There was plenty more to come, including some long discussions with Ford, a tragic reunion with Teddy and that jaw-dropping final scene.
Maeve's big escape plot took on a tragic layer, even as she continually proved she was smarter than her creators. The idea that her whole scheme was simply a narrative (created by Ford? Because it certainly doesn't seem to be of benefit to anyone in the park, nor the hapless techs or guards she, Hector and Armistice take out as they head for the exit). But bringing it all together, sensational as always, was Thandie Newton, who along with Wood was the best performer given the juiciest material to work with.
So, yes. The biggest fan theory about William and the MIB being the same person was true. While it was slightly disappointing that so many had figured that out before the reveal, it didn't mitigate the power of Dolores learning the truth, or the grand scale of the younger William's search for her. We almost wondered if the creators were about to pull a switch and have Logan turn out to the MIB (let's face it, he was enough of an arse from the get-go), but the sad trajectory of William finally finding himself as a man obsessed worked brilliantly despite leaving big clues before. Plus, does this mean we've seen the end of Jimmi Simpson and Ed Harris? Maybe, but given the tricky, time-twisting narrative, they could pop up again?
All season, Ford – as superbly played by Anthony Hopkins, who we'll truly miss if his character's headshot means the true end of him – has been portrayed as a cruel deity with little remorse. As it turns out, he has his own agenda, and it was in keeping with his old partner's ideas about the hosts' growing consciousness. Of course, he went about it in a particularly manipulative way, even if he figured his co-creations needed to suffer to achieve consciousness. But the final, grand scheme was audacious and terrifying, especially given that it had been out in the open for anyone to spot and yet was missed by most.
Poor old Teddy. Not only did he become a mass-murderer and was then felled by Dolores, his one true love. So, for the final time this season: Oh My God, They Killed Teddy! You Bastards! Fortunately, as per usual, he was up and about later, rescuing the woman he loved and then being repurposed as a charming gala host. And then everything went bloody again, though fortunately Dolores was there to reassure him that it will all be okay. If and when the hosts do create their own society, we figure someone must keep an eye on Teddy... After all he's seen, that boy ain't right.
Twist upon twist. Questions answered and new questions posed. If certain shows have been offering undernourished extended episodes, the Westworld's creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (with Nolan directing) didn't disappoint. Yes, there was the odd moment, particularly given how many had figured out the William In Black mystery, that dragged a little, but for the vast majority of the season finale, this was a great end to the beginning. Using the narrative in a way that only Westworld can, The Bicameral Mind addressed the big mysteries and left a compelling road ahead for Dolores and the rest. If it means we must say goodbye to Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, that's a shame, but they went out well. Logical issues continued to itch here and there – while we know Maeve tinkered with the security system, Delos continues to be the least organised incredibly complicated facility in the world. Still, it was worth it for Maeve's storyline and you have to love the sheer ballsiness of that final scene. The hosts have been malfunctioning, so how much fun is it for the big finish to be at a function? Other little thoughts: Samurai World! And was that a little, stealthy nod towards Jurassic Park with Dolores talk of dinosaurs? Westworld hasn't always been perfect, but this is fantastic start to a series that is compelling, smart, complex and occasionally violent (particularly this week). When we talked to him for the junket before the show launched, James Marsden told Empire that the finale would have magma pouring out of our heads. Well, skull open; magma everywhere. The wait for Season 2 – particularly as it appears the show won't be back until 2018 because of production reasons – will be a very, very long one.
How many worlds are there?
We don't know yet! But we know Westworld is park one and there's also Samurai World. We're hoping for Roman World as a nod to the movie. And Futureworld? And Jurassic World! (Maybe producer JJ Abrams can ask Steven Spielberg for permission to use that one.)
Where oh where is Elsie?
We assume she's dead, but we haven't seen a body and there has been no definite revelation. And given how much Shannon Woodward brought to the role, we hope she's back next season.
Is there a scene after the credits?
There is! If you're a fan of what Marvel does, this was more in the style of fun action scenes than any big revelation. If you stopped watching as the credits rolled, go back and take a look.
Did someone create a Westworld drinking game?
Someone did. Please play responsibly. These drunken delights have vomitous ends.
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Westworld airs on HBO in the US on Sunday nights and Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic in the UK