Westworld: 3 things we want to see in the season 2 finale


This Sunday, Westworld will bring its sophomore season to an end, and we have high hopes for the finale. Here are three of them.

It seems like season 2 of Westworld began only yesterday. With its jumbled structure and slow-burn pace, the season had the feeling of a dream, passing by in a blur. Sure, sometimes I had no clue what was going on or what any of it meant. But, for the most part, it was a beautiful dream, and I’m not ready for it to end.

Luckily, it’s not over quite yet: we have one more episode left. To be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with fan theories this season, and I’m not the kind of person to form my own. So, as far as predictions go, your guess is as good as (or, probably, better than) mine. Judging by the trailer for “The Passenger,” we’re in for a wild and intense ride.

With that said, I do have a few specific expectations. Here are three elements that would make for a satisfying finale on Sunday:

Character meetings

Like fellow HBO series Game of Thrones, Westworld sprawls, incorporating multiple storylines, perspectives, and timelines in each episode. As a result, the characters are often isolated, seldom forming attachments. When they do cross paths, as Dolores and Charlotte do in “Les Écorchés,” their interactions tend to be brief and superficial.

Now, everyone is heading to the same destination: the mysterious Valley Beyond. Ultimately, what the characters discover there is less interesting than how they react to what they discover — and whom they meet along the way.

In particular, the trailer teases lots of screen time between Dolores and Bernard/Arnold. Perhaps more than any other, their relationship dynamic constantly shifts, going from scientist/subject and parent/child in the flashbacks to captor/captive when they meet in “Virtù e Fortuna.” Will they finally be on equal footing now that they are both alone? The presence of Logan should add a fun twist, especially since Dolores’s outfit suggests it isn’t a flashback. Hopefully, they also run into Maeve. Despite being arguably the series leads, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton have yet to share a scene together.

Above all, I can’t wait for Dolores and the Man in Black to reunite. Even though they haven’t interacted since last season, their relationship represents the central conflict of the season; it feels like the past nine episodes have all been building up to this showdown. How it plays out is less inevitable, since Dolores’s transformation blurred the once-clear line between hero and villain. A pair of ruthless gunslingers intent on destroying Westworld meets. It’s bound to be explosive.

Oh, and how about a reunion between Elsie and Stubbs? The show hasn’t given us nearly enough of their sarcastic banter since “The Stray.”

Meta commentary

For the most part, season 2 has relegated the deconstruction of storytelling that made Westworld so compelling in season 1 to the margins. It makes sense: whereas last season explored what it’s like to exist in a narrative, this season is all about breaking out of narratives. Thematically, it has focused more on the dangers of technology than the dangers of entertainment.

Still, the old subtext crops up every now and then. In “Akane No Mai,”  Maeve and her company discover that Shogun World was essentially a rip-off of Westworld, imposing the same tropes and narratives onto a different environment. (Actually, this is the main reason why I tolerate Lee Sizemore’s continued presence; he has always been the show’s clearest vehicle for articulating its critique of spectacle.) Meanwhile, “Kiksuya” dissects Western stereotypes of Native Americans by revealing the complicated interior life behind Akecheta’s “strong, silent” façade.

“The Passenger” should bring Westworld back to its roots. As season 2 has gradually revealed, Delos’s secret project involves copying human DNA and psychological data and transferring it to a host body in an elaborate– and, so far, futile — bid for immortality. In a sense, the pursuit of immortality is humanity’s attempt to break out of their narrative — the narrative of life, which always ends the same way. This revelation provides a prime opportunity to examine how stories deal with (or, frequently, avoid dealing with) death.

The outside world

Back in its second episode, season 2 offered our first peek at the world outside Westworld. Yet, the show’s precise setting remains under wraps; we still have few details about where the park is and what society is like. Even that peek happened in a flashback, so, for all we know, the world could look radically different in the present.

Fortunately, Westworld is big enough and has enough going on inside it to keep the show from becoming claustrophobic. This season, it at least ventured into other parks, most notably Shogun World. But it’s hard not to be curious. Westworld thrives on a sense of discovery, balancing its brooding monologues with world-building. Whereas most shows, whether serialized or episodic, dramatic or comedic, develop a comfortable rhythm, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s epic keeps viewers off-balance, constantly hinting at the unknown. It’s as tantalizing as it is frustrating.

In an interview at the beginning of the season, the showrunners described Westworld’s narrative trajectory as “a steady pull out revealing more and more context.” Regardless if Dolores finds the door she’s looking for in the Valley Beyond, we’re not done exploring yet.

Related Story: Westworld’s mobile game: Is it worth playing?

Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.