This week on Westworld, all the core characters were prominently featured, the mysterious Cradle took center-stage, and a familiar face reappeared in an all-new episode.
Warning: Spoilers from Westworld season 2, episode 6 “Phase Space” will follow.
Now, let’s check out the 5 major takeaways from the episode!
A changed cowboy
Teddy wastes no time showing off his new personality. He’s everything Dolores wants in a man during a host uprising: ruthless, no-nonsense, and completely loyal to her. What isn’t as expected is that all his memories from before are still intact.
Teddy remembers what he was like before, and even refers to elements of his old self. This is an intriguing choice because it suggests that while Dolores wants to change Teddy for this cutthroat world, she doesn’t want to take away his memories. She wants him to be cognizant of how he’s changed for the better.
Earlier in the episode, Teddy appears grateful for these changes, acknowledging that he used to be weak and destined for failure, but now he’s strong. It’s not all gratitude, though, as later in the episode Teddy says to Dolores, “I never thought I’d want to leave this place, but I guess you changed that, too.”
There’s a hint of bitterness and resentment in this line suggesting that Teddy may not like his rewrite as much as initially presented. The episode’s writer Carly Wray added to this line of thinking in an interview:
“Moving forward there are some really interesting moments for Teddy where he’ll get to decide for himself whether or not he wants Dolores’ changes to stand.”
Letting Teddy keep memories of his old self will likely be a decision Dolores comes to regret. He may be able to shoot a prisoner without hesitation now, but the old Teddy and his inner conflict are definitely still in there.
Humanity and abandonment
It’s an understatement to say that Westworld has damaged William’s perception of reality. The extent of the damage is clearer than ever in this episode when William doesn’t believe his own daughter is real and instead is a host sent by Ford.
He believes Ford’s consciousness is controlling her just as it controlled the hosts of young Ford, the new El Lazo, and Lawrence’s daughter earlier in the season.
Once William accepts that it’s actually his daughter and a not a host that looks like her, they have a long overdue heart-to-heart conversation. She gets through to him like no one ever has before, giving him the perspective he lacks.
While she doesn’t forgive him for the person he’s become, she does apologize for saying he was the cause of her mother’s death. It’s a start at mending their broken relationship, and enough that causes the Man in Black to express a kind of humanity and deep regret he’s never shown before.
It’s a moving scene, but any emotional tears can be wiped away quickly as Emily wakes the next morning to find that her father has abandoned her yet again.
Episode writer Carly Wray believes in the moment of their conversation, William means what he says:
“When we were first rehearsing it, [actor] Ed [Harris, who plays the Man in Black] said his approach to the scene was that in the moment when the Man in Black tells Emily he’s going to go with her, he believes it. He wants to be the guy that’s going to go with her.”
William wants to become the man and the father that his daughter wants him to be, but his core nature resists that change. Normally for the worse, Westworld always brings out his true self, and that’s exactly what happens when he abandons Emily, despite what appeared to be a beautiful moment of reconciliation and development.
Team Maeve unites and crumbles
Team Maeve manages to unite stronger than ever before and then begins to crumble all in the span of this episode.
They defeat the Shogun’s remaining loyalists and complete the journey to Snow Lake. Akane is able to grieve Sakura and honor her memory. Snow Lake also provides the access point to the Westworld sector where Maeve’s daughter resides.
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Which they successfully reach, and Maeve even expresses some pretty sincere gratitude to Lee Sizemore for his integral contributions to reaching this goal. In these moments, team Maeve is united and at their strongest.
A hint of crumbling begins with Akane and Musashi choosing to stay in Shogun World, though their decision is understandable given their individual motives. The real knife in the heart is Maeve realizing moments after reuniting with her daughter that she’s been replaced with a new mother.
Her daughter doesn’t even think Maeve is her mother, bringing team Maeve’s whole quest this season into question.
Ghost Nation rides in seconds later. Thinking they’re here with the intent to brutalize, Maeve runs away with her daughter. The girl is understandably terrified by not just the sudden presence of Ghost Nation and that they’re surrounding the woman programmed to be her mother, but also she’s being pulled away by a woman that in her mind she only met moments ago.
Just as Ghost Nation has helped humans like Emily and Stubbs survive this season, it seems like they’re here to help too, but what they want is still unclear and for now, adds to the chaos. All in all, it’s not the joyful reunion Maeve imagined.
To make matters worse, despite Mave’s sincere gratitude, Lee takes advantage of the chaos to call for help using the communication device he swiped off a human corpse in Shogun World. Felix is aghast at Lee’s betrayal, but not surprisingly Sylvester seems all for it.
The purpose of their mission is falling apart and the betrayals begin. It’ll be fascinating to see how team Maeve deals with these challenges, especially now that they’ve found the daughter but she’s not programmed to want what Maeve wants right now.
Hello, old friend
In the two weeks later timeline with Bernard–which we now know we’re only a week away from thanks to a line from Charlotte Hale–the Delos team mentions that the Cradle has been destroyed. The Cradle is explained in more detail this episode as a place where the parks’ data is stored and backed up, including the hosts’ personalities and the various narratives.
The Cradle also tests potential storylines by virtually simulating them. Located in the Delos operational headquarters known as the Mesa, the Cradle is intentionally separate from the parks and the hosts.
This episode reveals that such separation has changed as the Cradle has interfaced into all the parks systems and is fighting back. Bernard knows they have to access the Cradle directly to understand what’s going on, and uploads himself into the system to investigate.
With his consciousness inside the Cradle, Bernard experiences the virtual simulation of Sweetwater that fans know well from season 1. It follows all the Sweetwater storylines routinely until Bernard spots a greyhound and follows it into the Mariposa saloon to see none other than Robert Ford playing the piano.
It appears Ford’s consciousness has been in the Cradle this whole time, likely uploaded there before his death. This seems to explain how Ford’s been able to communicate with the Man in Black via other hosts this season. How much control Ford’s consciousness has beyond that is still a mystery, as are Ford’s current motives.
Regardless, it sure feels good to have him back.
Dolores recreating the past
The opening scene of “Phase Space” is arguably the most confusing. It initially appears to be a continuation of a past conversation between Dolores and Arnold, a conversation that the audience first saw in the season two premiere.
Their conversation changes to suggest that Dolores is actually recreating a past conversation with Arnold. She is able to freeze his motor functions and speaks to him the way William spoke to the host versions of James Delos.
The aspect ratio of this scene is the same aspect ratio of the scenes later on in the episode where Bernard’s consciousness is in the Cradle, including when he encounters Ford. The same aspect ratio was used in the season two premiere when audiences thought they were seeing a flashback of Dolores and Arnold.
This means that the scene in the season 2 premiere and the opening scene of this episode are taking place inside the Cradle.
Beyond this fact, the scene is still shrouded in mystery. It appears as though Dolores is in control of the host, but it could be a flashback of Ford having Dolores recreate her conversations with Arnold in order to create Bernard and make sure he was authentically Arnold enough.
It could also be Dolores creating and testing out her own version of Arnold, a version completely different than Bernard. Dolores could also be controlling and testing Bernard’s consciousness in the Cradle, with or without the intervention of Ford. If that’s the case, it’s unclear why Dolores would program Bernard to say the things Arnold once said.
All we know for sure right now is that the scene takes place in the Cradle, and is a continuation of Dolores recreating a conversation fans already saw begin in the season 2 premiere.
What major takeaways from “Phase Space” did we miss? Let us know in the comments!
Westworld airs new episodes every Sunday at 9 P.M. EST!