Westworld “The Bicameral Mind” Season Finale Review (Season 1 Episode 10)

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Is it possible to have predicted a lot of where a mystery-driven series was headed before the fact and still enjoy the hell out of it? I suspect I’m not the only one who got the answer to that question with tonight’s “Westworld” finale, “The Bicameral Mind”- and I suspect that, despite the fact that a lot of theories were indeed confirmed, most people will have really appreciated all the thought that went into this Chinese puzzle box of a first season when all is said and done. (Or should I say “Mystery Box,” given the J.J. Abrams connection?)

Believe me, I tried to avoid all the theorizing as much as I could, wanting to have my own experience of the show sans influence from the peanut gallery, but much like “Lost” and other such shows before it, let’s face it- part of the fun was trying to figure it out before all was revealed. Speaking of which, kudos for the show for resisting dragging things out. If anything, they played their hands just as all the conjecture hit a fever pitch. (Spoilers from here on out.)

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So, even if a lot of people were on the money about what was really going on, watching it play out was still plenty entertaining, especially given some of the things going on that most people didn’t see coming, as well as the signposts to the…ahem…future. (See what I did there?) True, I think the general consensus was that William and the Man in Black were one and the same, and indeed they were, so no shocker there.

Also, I think even more of us knew that multiple timelines were in play here, but I don’t know that the show was really trying to hide that aspect of it too much, beyond some, in retrospect, flat-out brilliant editing going on throughout the season. Any worries about the show having to do reshoots being a bad sign it was going to be a complete train wreck were totally unfounded, as the season was nothing if not impressively put together, and certainly beautifully executed and acted throughout.

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So, yeah, it’s hard to complain about being mostly right when the results were so compelling. Yes, there were so unresolved issues- wherefore art thou Stubbs and Elsie?- and definitely some questions about how things work exactly, in terms of the theme park aspect, without things going completely sideways, much less without guests crossing paths more than they did.

But overall, I really enjoyed it, and how awesome was that final act, with Ford’s “real” intentions finally revealed? I saw it coming about halfway through the episode- pretty much as soon as that light went up on Dolores and Teddy’s sad goodbye on the beach, if not before- but boy was it glorious to watch in action, between Charlotte’s realization that she was royally screwed, just when she thought she had the upper hand and Maeve’s last-minute emotional realization that, just when she thought she was out, the park pulled her back in. Damned self-awareness!

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I also loved Dolores’ own self-realization, as she finally achieved what the MIB could not- figure out what was really at the center of the maze: it was herself, realizing who- and what- she was, and finally, inevitably taking control of her own future. Like the little girl said: the maze wasn’t for him. The look on MIB/William’s face as he realized that himself was also priceless. Hell hath no fury like an android scorned- and boy, did William do some damage in those 30-odd years.

Like all good season finales, there were some definite losses- but did anyone predict Ford would kick them off? If anything, I thought he’d be the sole survivor, who set all this into motion and intended to be the only one left standing in the end. When Felix revealed that “Arnold” had been messing with Maeve’s inner-workings long before she did so, sure, there was the possibility that Arnold was getting his revenge from beyond the grave, but in the end, it was Ford pulling the strings, really.

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I think, in many ways, Ford had to journey through the maze Arnold set into motion as much as Dolores did- he just didn’t realize it until he set about his final narrative, at which point he was already resigned to knowing he had to die so that his creations could live, as it were. As Dolores noted, the human God- i.e. Ford- had to fall for a new one to take his place, and as she also predicted, she would be there to walk over the dust he would become.

It may have taken Ford some 35 years his own damn self to figure out what Arnold realized all along, but he got there, and in style, I might add, taking down a whole lot of fat cats, no doubt all of them investors, in the process. No wonder William was smiling- he knew when he’d been had AND he’d finally got the answer what was at the center of the maze: his fate…and his doom. That’s what having free reign of the park to do what you please gets you, dude. Whoops!

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I did feel a bit bad for Teddy, though- talk about being a pawn in someone else’s game. The look of confusion in his eyes as he saw all the mayhem swirling around him was kind of heartbreaking. I disagree with the common criticism that there was no one to root for, and that everyone was expendable. (One article I read online speculated that Maeve could have killed everyone in the park, and they would have been fine with it!)

I thought, if anything, Ford was the one who turned out to be the most sympathetic of all the humans, in spite of all his puppetry and button-pushing and playing God. As we saw, it was all a means to an end, and he knew it would take his sacrifice to get there- now THAT’S dedication to one’s craft! But Elsie wasn’t so bad, and I didn’t mind Stubbs- which is why I suspect they will be back and there’s a reason they didn’t figure into the finale- Ford probably had them stashed away on purpose to keep them away from all the mayhem.

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So, the big question is: what next? So, the robots run amuck and kill most everyone…then what? I think the move of foreshadowing “Futureworld” was a smart one- the show can easily shift gears into another part of the park- note also how Maeve’s slip of paper Felix gave her said “Park One,” indicating that there were several more where “Westworld” came from- and have each progressive season take place in another part of the theme park, with all new characters and plot-lines. There was also the appearance of samurai types in those scenes towards the end- possible “Samurai World” for next season?

True, by taking the approach they did in Season One, it will be that much tougher to pull the wool over people’s eyes- not that they entirely did so in the first one, mind you, but still, I imagine there were some people who avoided all the theories even more than I did who might have been more surprised on the whole. Good luck pulling something like that off a second time around.

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That said, it doesn’t mean they can’t take an entirely different approach in Season Two, this one, say, more from a female’s perspective. We saw precious few women guests in the park, but it would be fun to see one take the lead in the second season, this time with a male host going through the process of becoming self-aware, with said woman along for the ride. Perhaps she wouldn’t have to “go bad” like William, either. Who’s to say a self aware robot can’t fall in love? Dolores sort of did, after all- twice, technically.

Or, if they choose to simply pick up where they left off, there’s still a fair amount of leeway to go in a new direction. Perhaps, after the mass carnage, Delos will send someone else to see why they haven’t heard from anyone in a while, and they will arrive to find the robots in control now- only they don’t know that, and things will go from there. Or the robots will just kill anyone who arrives, period, as soon as they get there.

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Of course, there are plenty of people still in the park, especially within the control rooms and various tech support areas, so their stories can still be told, and there’s Felix, who was still alive for the time being. Perhaps, his being sympathetic to the android cause will lead others to do the same and team up with the robots to combat the evil forces that are holding them back from living their own lives, as it were.

It’s also possible Ford put his consciousness into another robot, similar to what Arnold did and isn’t technically “dead” at all and will be wreaking even more havoc on down the line. Maybe that robot being built underneath the “hidden” replica of his house was for himself. Maybe that replica is what Dolores actually shot and Ford is alive and well and it was all a fake-out.

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Like I said, a lot of ways this could all go. Let’s just hope they’re half as fascinating as what we got in Season One. Until then, I have to say, I really and truly enjoyed the ride, warts and all. Sure, there were plot holes, but also plenty of wiggle room to work around them on down the line. Remember, we only saw what the writers wanted us to see. Who knows what other secrets lurk elsewhere? Can’t wait to find out in Season Two!

What did you think of Season One of “Westworld”? Did you figure out the various twists? Did it ruin your enjoyment of the season as a whole- or actually enhance it? Were there things you didn’t see coming? Did you like the way it ended? Were you sad Maeve went back? Is there anyone you hope survives the robot uprising? Who did you find more sympathetic, the robots or the humans? Who were you rooting for? What do you think will happen in Season Two?

Sound off down below, and thanks for reading!