This week’s episode of Westworld, “Vanishing Point”, is the penultimate episode of the current season. For some reason I thought that this meant this episode would be a bit mundane, just moving things into place for the grand finalé. I was wrong.
With “Vanishing Point”, here we are at the ninth episode of Westworld, only 90 minutes left, and it’s been a really solid season so far. I had assumed that after last week’s absolutely magnificent episode that this week’s might feel a little flat in comparison. What we actually got is a really interesting episode that reveals more than its fair share of surprises.
“Vanishing Point” felt like a William/MiB episode to me; sure, we check in on a lot of the other characters, but it felt like he was the real heart of this week’s story. We learned a lot in a relatively short space of time. I think that this was the first time we have actually met MiB’s wife Juliet (Sela Ward). We’ve seen hints around her suicide all season, but in “Vanishing Point” we actually get to see what really happened. We saw last season how William slowly evolved into MiB during his time in the park, and it seems like this was a major catalyst for Juliet’s suicide. He changed over time, the park brought out something in him, something dark and stained inside him. Here’s the problem: while he thought she was passed out drunk, he explained all of his dark inner feelings and deeds. As if hearing about it all wasn’t enough, Juliet also finds MiB’s data card that shows all of his choices and decisions in the park – something he’d conveniently been given earlier that evening by Ford (no wonder he really hated Robert Ford).
A key theme running through “Vanishing Point” is the fathers and their daughters, as we find MiB in bad shape and being looked after by Grace. She’s (understandably) keen to get her father out of the park and into the hands of some medical professionals. Instead, he’s intent on making it the Valley Beyond, to his own project, which logs every action and choice made in the park to create copies of their consciousness – he’s chasing immortality. I thought it was a nice touch that in order to make this work they’d need regular brain scans. Guess where the brain scanners are – go on, guess? That’s right, they’re in the cowboy hats. Absolutely superb.
This episode really shows us just how much MiB has changed since his first foray into the park. His own wife couldn’t stand the person he’d become and the things that he had done in the park. It’s not just the relationship with his wife that’s messed up; his relationship with his daughter is strained at best. He doesn’t actually believe that she would ever want to get him help and so she must be a host sent by Ford to mess with him and so he kills her.
I thought there were no real surprises to come with MiB but just as he’s at his lowest and about to kill himself he stops and starts hacking into his arm with a knife. It’s at this point that I got a very strong Battlestar Galactica vibe from Westworld. Could he possibly be a host all along? Could anyone be a host? Could I be a host?
Bernard finally manages to rid himself of Ford’s code this week, but not before delivering a message from Ford to Maeve by some sort of host Bluetooth. Bernard is intent on making it to the Valley Beyond (aka The Forge) before the hosts so that he can prevent Dolores from getting her hands on all those lovely copies of the guests. I still can’t work out what Dolores is intending to do with all of that data, but I guess data is power now. Elsie seemed to be pretty bought into Bernard’s plan until he decides he has to do it alone and leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere. Elsie can’t seem to catch a break; Bernard kept her in a cupboard in a cave for weeks and now he’s left her stranded in the desert.
Maeve isn’t looking too good, still cut open and stuck on that table. Even more worrying is that Charlotte seems to have found a way to replicate Maeve’s special psychic host powers so it seems her days are numbered. That is until Bernard delivers Ford’s code into her head and we get a wonderful performance from Anthony Hopkins. He had always thought of Maeve as his daughter and wanted her to escape the park to something better. Ford has one more thing to give to Maeve: a kiss on the forehead that seemingly grants her super admin rights. Hopefully, this means she’ll be back on her feet in time for next week.
Finally, we’ve got Dolores continuing her journey to the Valley Beyond with Teddy in tow. Although things are not exactly going smoothly, despite Teddy dispatching members of Ghost Nation like a man with a Game Genie, he’s conflicted. There’s some of Teddy’s old personality resurfacing, some of his goodness and morality. I got the genuine impression from this episode that Dolores and Teddy were two hosts that had a genuine connection that went beyond their programming, and it was really nicely acted by both Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden. In a scene that mirrored Juliet and MiB’s relationship, Teddy just can’t live with what Dolores has made him into and the only way out is to kill himself.
“Vanishing Point” definitely moves all of the pieces into the right places for next week’s final episode, but it also revealed a lot more than I had expected. I just hope that they’ve saved something for next week.