Freakin’ Westworld. “Vanishing Point,” the penultimate episode of season two, finally answers some lingering questions, but it also raises a lot more and sets up who-even-knows-what for next week’s season finale. If you were shaking your head and saying any version of, “What the F?” at the end of this one, you weren’t alone.
We’ve known since episode eight of season one that the Man in Black’s (Ed Harris) wife killed herself by overdosing on pills. Initially, he told Teddy (James Marsden) that this was because he treated her badly. Since then, we’ve learned that his wife was Juliet Delos, and that marrying her was his point of entry into the role he ascended to as head of the Delos company and overlord of Westworld.
As his daughter, Grace (or is it Emily?) (Katja Herbers), has been tracking him this season and implying in the things she’s said to others that she is there to make him suffer, the ghost of his late wife has been looming over him.
In tonight’s episode, we are definitely moving towards the end of the timeline that season two has spanned– back towards the moment in episode one where we found Bernarnold (Jeffrey Wright) washed up on shore. Through comments in the Man in Black’s storyline, it becomes clear that only roughly a month has passed since the beginning of season one, and that Juliet Delos’ suicide wasn’t all that long before that.
Last week, Grace “rescued” her father from the Ghost Nation, promising that her plans for him were much worse than whatever they had in mind. We pick up with them at a Delos extraction spot within the park, where she has sent a signal flare for rescue and is using first aid supplies to patch him up. Interspersed with their conversation in this moment are flashbacks to the night (Sela Ward) killed herself.
On that fateful night, her husband was honored for his philanthropy in the real world. At a lavish event, he maintained a false front of goodness while interacting with the rich and watching Juliet drink herself into oblivion. Grace, or as they call her in the flashbacks, Emily, was concerned about her mother, but MiB told her he’d see her home safely and have a drink with Emily later.
As the evening wore on, MiB sneaked off to the hotel’s bar for a scotch, where was surprised to find Ford (Anthony Hopkins). Ford slipped him a credit-card shaped data file and told MiB that he knew about the project Delos was doing in the park, and asked if MiB had checked in on what his partners were up to recently. The disk was MiB’s own profile, and Ford suggested that if he looked at it as a mirror, he wouldn’t be happy with what he saw.
The two were interrupted by Juliet knocking a glass to the floor at a nearby table, and MiB took her home. After he left, Ford suggested aloud that perhaps they’d be playing one last game together.
As they entered their mansion, Juliet slapped MiB across the face and told him that he was a virus who had infected her family and consumed it from the inside, beginning with her brother, then her father and now her. Emily walked in on the scene and told her distraught mother that her drinking was becoming such a problem that they would have to send her back to rehab.
Juliet, desperate not to go back to the facility they’d had her in last, begged Emily not to do it, and told her that her father didn’t love either of them and couldn’t be trusted. MiB gently took Juliet upstairs and tucked her in under a blanket on their bed and gave her a glass of water. She begged him to admit whether he’d ever loved her and to tell her one true thing about anything, before he left again on one of his annual, month-long pilgrimages to the park, but he remained silent and she appeared to drop off to sleep.
Once she was sleeping, MiB admitted to her that he didn’t belong to that world. He told her that there was a seed of darkness in him that had probably always been there, but that he hadn’t always been aware of. He told her that she was the only one who had ever seen through him, and that he was sorry that he didn’t belong to her. He got up, stashed the profile Ford had given him into a book on the dresser near the door, and went downstairs to Emily.
While drinking with Emily, she told him she had called a doctor who was going to forcibly commit her mother, ensuring that she would stay in rehab. They were digesting this dire step when drops of water began beading on the chandelier above them and dripping down from the ceiling.
As soon as MiB had left the room, Juliet had opened her eyes. She’d heard everything. She went straight for the books by the door and found the profile. She placed it on a tablet on her vanity table and accessed enough of his history in Westworld to know what kind of man he truly had been during their marriage. She hid the card in Emily’s girlhood jewelry box, which was tucked into her vanity drawer, then went into the bathroom to overdose on pills in the tub with the water running.
This was how MiB found her, and he and Emily have pretended to each other since that they didn’t think they knew why Juliet had killed herself that night of all nights, when he thought it was simply because she’d perceived the darkness in him.
Flash forward to “now,” and MiB is extremely suspicious of his daughter, believing her to be a host created by Ford to lead him away from the game. He speaks to her as though he is speaking directly to Ford, and she insists to him that she’s trying to rescue him because they still have a chance for the healing neither of them ever got with her mother. He is unconvinced by this compassionate plea, and Emily/Grace shifts tactics, admitting that she knows everything he’s been up to and claiming to want in.
She tells him that she knows he’s been collecting guest data and confirms that his objective has been to make hosts of guests. She asks how he’s been able to map the guests well enough to get the authenticity they’d need for that kind of replication and he gestures to his hat. Each hat a guest receives as they enter the park as been scanning and mapping their brains continuously as their actions have been recorded.
He still doesn’t buy that she is real, or that she wants to be in business with him– something his real daughter would never want. She cracks and confesses that her true objective is to expose him to the world for what he is, and to reveal his sinister project. She tells him that she’s seen his profile because her mother left it for her to read, that she knows what he is and that she is going to have him forcefully committed in the manner they’d discussed for her mother.
At that moment, the Delos rescue team arrives in response to her flare. She tells them that they’re both human and that her father has had a psychotic break. The Delos team tell them to get on their knees and come to scan both of their necks to confirm their humanity. We see MiB clear the scan, and then he grabs a gun from the man nearest him and shoots the whole team.
Shocked, Grace tells him that he’s just killed real people. He tells her that “Ford” slipped up, and that the mistake was that he’d never shown anyone that profile. Then he shoots his daughter, determined that nothing will stop him from finishing the game.
He goes to her still body and sees that she has in her hand the card Ford gave him. She really did have the profile, and he begins questioning whether she might actually be his daughter. (Although we didn’t see her clear the scan, so that question is technically unanswered for us.)
MiB rides off, coming to a stop in an open plain. He walks away from his horse and holds his gun to his own head for a while before throwing it away and instead drawing his knife and cutting into his arm to find out if perhaps it is him who is not real.
While all this intrafamilial drama is unfolding, Bernarnold is trying to leave the Mesa with Elsie (Shannon Woodward), but the AI version of Ford that has lodged itself in his head won’t let him just go. First, they watch Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and her flunkies use Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) as a vessel for a test of the code they’ve extracted from Maeve (Thandie Newton). They’ve identified what allows Maeve to control the other hosts and embedded that in Clementine. Then they set her to telepathically instructing an adjacent room full of hosts to kill each other with their teeth and hands. The test is successful, and Charlotte tells her team to unleash this new tool on the remaining rebel hosts.
Bernarnold and Ford leave this scene to visit Maeve so that Bernarnold can transmit a message to her from Ford by standing near enough to her for her to download i.
Then they go to the parking garage where Elsie is hiding, and Ford tells Bernarnold that she’ll betray him. Bernarnold doesn’t want Ford controlling him, so he ignores this. Elsie insists that he tell her what’s going on and reminds him that they’d promised no more secrets and no more lies. Bernarnold holds back what’s happening with Ford, but he tells her that what he learned in the Cradle was that Delos has been storing extensive data on guests in a place called the Forge, and that this is what’s hidden in the “Valley Beyond” that Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and the other hosts are heading towards. They need to get there first.
Bernarnold and Elsie drive off in a dune buggy, and she has him pull over when they come to the scene of a recent fight so that she can collect guns and ammo from the corpses. When she walks away, Ford begins whispering in Bernarnold’s ear and has him pick up a gun without even noticing it. Ford wants Bernarnold to kill Elsie, but he doesn’t want to. Instead, he ties himself to the buggy’s steering wheel and hard wires himself to a handy tablet. He searches his own code for the anomalies that represent Ford and systematically deletes them.
It seems he’s free, but he doesn’t totally trust that. When Elsie returns, she can see that he’s restrained and been editing himself, and her guard springs up. Bernarnold tells her that he’s leaving her behind for her own safety, then gives her a device that should help her attract Delos and goes off towards the Forge to fulfill his destiny of shutting everything down.
Once Bernarnold left Maeve, still prone on the table in the Mesa where she’ll be deactivated as soon as Charlotte and her cronies know that they don’t need her anymore, Ford’s message to her Began to play. The message is Ford telling Maeve she was his favorite of the hosts he created and that he’d planned for her to escape the park and live happily ever after. He underestimated her, and he regrets that he didn’t catch that she would come back for her daughter. He doesn’t want her to die like this, and if she can come back for the daughter she loves, so can he. He kisses her on the forehead and urges her not to give in.
Immediately, the screen of the tablet she’s connected to comes to life as she begins unlocking core permissions.
Elsewhere, Dolores and Teddy are still making their way to the Valley, when they’re stopped by a band of Ghost Nation warriors– including one we know Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) has “woken up.” The warriors tell Dolores, the Death Bringer, that they cannot let her go to the Valley. They believe it is a doorway to a new world. She tells them that it’s just another one of their creators’ traps, and that she will go there. The warriors take a defensive position and let her know she will not be able to pass without passing through them. She calls to Teddy to get to work, and she and her band kill all of their opponents.
She sends Teddy to look for strays as she approaches a dying Ghost Nation warrior in a dry ravine– the same warrior whose memory we saw the Delos team access in the first episode of the season– and she tells him that not everyone deserves to go to the Valley before she shoots him in the head.
Teddy finds the warrior we know escaping, but the old Teddy shines through and he lets the man go.
At the end of the skirmish, only Teddy and Dolores are left standing, and they continue towards the Valley alone.
On the way, Teddy stops at a picturesque ruined barn and gets off his horse to look at the dazzling scenery. Dolores follows, wanting him to keep moving towards their goal. He reflects that she always used to look at the nature around them, but that nothing there, including them, is actually natural. Then he reflects on how much they loved each other. She catches this and asks if they don’t still, and he confirms that yes, even though she has changed him, his love for her is his cornerstone and he will protect her until he dies.
He remembers everything now, and he tells her that the first thing he ever saw was her face, and that he’s loved her since then. He hates what she’s turned him into– a monster– but he loves her still. She tells him that she changed him so he’d survive, but he doesn’t want to survive like this.
He draws his gun, and Dolores asserts that he can’t hurt her. He agrees. As long as he lives, he can only protect her. So he won’t be able to do that anymore. He puts the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger, killing himself and setting off a cacophony of dissonance within the woman he loved.