Westworld: Vanishing Point
June 17, 2018 10:17 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

The Man in Black confronts his troubled past; Charlotte forms a plan to kill all the hosts.

Happy Father's Day.
posted by the man of twists and turns (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked that this episode started actually revealing information; really disliked its bleakness.

The book that William tucks his profile card into: Slaughterhouse-Five.

Teddy remembers being activated for the first time by Ford. Has he been awake the whole time?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:15 PM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Todd VanDerWerff and Aja Romano, Vox: Is Westworld moving forward or going in circles?
Aja:All of this assumes that Westworld is interested in feeding me straightforward narrative developments, which I’m not sure it’s ever been. Am I watching the show the wrong way? Is the show gaslighting me? Help!

Todd: This is one of those things I’ve been asking myself the deeper we get into Westworld season two: If the show isn’t trying to be a conventional TV narrative, should I be dinging it for failing to engage me on the same level as one? And I honestly don’t know.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:29 PM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


William looks like a Death's Head in that tuxedo.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:55 PM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I found the slightly-de-aged "smooth his wrinkles out just a little bit" Ed Harris makeup really quite distracting.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:05 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


really disliked its bleakness.

Seriously, that was really fucking bleak. Oof.
posted by homunculus at 5:17 AM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


That was definitely bleak. Also, William is getting positively Greek-myth level of hubris and tragedy.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:55 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Teddy remembers being activated for the first time by Ford. Has he been awake the whole time?

It wasn't that he'd been awake the whole time, but that he (like Dolores and Akecheta) had access to all of his past memories that had previously been walled off in each subsequent iteration of his loop.

I spent pretty much the entire back half of the episode concerned that they were going to kill off and/or fridge all of the interesting female characters. First Emily, which felt like a massive waste of her introduction just six episodes ago, and barely moved the needle for me in terms of escalating William's already massive level of moral self-injury. Then in quick succession we had AI Ford delivering a pseudo-eulogy for the crucified Maeve, while also trying to psych Bernard into shooting Elsie in the back. So I guess it was supposed to count as a relief when Teddy defused the tension by taking himself out of the picture?

(Speaking of which, it would have been nice if HBO had taken the events of the past couple of weeks into account and added an explicit "CW: repeated depictions of suicide" to the episode.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:22 AM on June 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


All the hosts are "awake" all the time, but as Strange Interlude noted, their memories are locked away when they "die" and are repaired. In fact, they might even be aware while they're being repaired, but they're coded if they happen to remember any of that, they consider it a weird dream.

The Maze seems like the "virus" that unlocks memories, which are (generally) perfect recordings of past events, though it seems like there are other ways to unlock past memories.

Speculation on the episode title: vanishing point "is a point on the image plane of a perspective drawing where the two-dimensional perspective projections (or drawings) of mutually parallel lines in three-dimensional space appear to converge" -- so we are reaching a point where project(ion)s meet, but how many points? Man in Black, Ford, Arnold, Bernard and Hale?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:02 AM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Vanishing Point is also an excellent movie in which Kowalski tries to escape his past and society and so on and ends up smashing his Challenger full-speed into a bulldozer, so I am not feeling great about the odds of my little murderbots.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Ed Harris Has Absolutely No Idea What’s Happening On ‘Westworld’
The Man in Black is a central player, for sure, but I agree that it must be hard to keep track of your storyline among all the other characters on the show.

I got to the point last year when I would just focus on what was going on with the Man in Black because there’s so much going on [in the show]. Even when I watch it, and as much as I am a part of it, there’s a lot of it that I don’t always understand.

I find it fascinating and really interesting and I love watching it, but I don’t always get the intricacies of what’s taking place. [Laughs]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:02 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's important to also mention that Slaughterhouse-Five has some themes that dovetail nicely with WW's narrative arc this season:

- It is a story about dissociation and PTSD with a thin veneer of time-travel and alien abductions to make the narrative more palatable to readers of that time

- It questions the very existence of free will and posits that fate is easier to accept for those traumatized by the horrors of war

- How the POW experience forever alters soldiers' mental health, and in some cases, can lead to paranoid delusions

- The book's events are written in a non-linear fashion, without any clear beginning, middle or end

- Vonnegut famously broke the 4th wall and often addressed his publisher, Sam Lawrence (i.e., Ford) directly, as in this passage:
"It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?”
It's true that Vonnegut is addressing the horrors and futility of war and asking why he survived the bombing of Dresden when so many young men who fought alongside him did not. In Vonnegut's estimation, there was no good reason why, so Pilgrim comforted himself in the idea that fate is immutable, and free will is simply an illusion that doesn't exist, per the Trafalmadoreans:
“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”
In WestWorld, Maeve, Delores and William are all, by turns, playing out Billy Pilgrim's role of soldier, massacre survivor and narrator trying to understand what's happened to them in the story so far, and why.

The truth is clear in both Slaughter-House Five and WestWorld: Massacres will always happen, for profit or entertainment or another reason that makes little sense to the dead and the suffering.

But is the true cost of war our very humanity?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:11 AM on June 18, 2018 [25 favorites]


Thanks, Unicorn on the cob! You provide more connections than in Insider's episode analysis, which notes that the mini book collection also include "Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy (a 1895 novel dealing with unhappy marriages, religion, suicide, and other bleakly topical themes). There's also "Plutarch's Historical Methods," and "Plutarch and Rome," but they don't delve discuss those other books or Plutarch other than to reference the earlier philosophical discussion.

Plutarch's Historical Methods: An Analysis of the "Mulierum virtutes" by Philip A. Stadter (1965) appears to be meta-analysis of Mulierum virtutes ("Concerning the virtues of women"), which is a section of Moralia, which can be loosely translated as "Morals" or "Matters relating to customs and mores."

Plutarch and Rome by Christopher Prestige Jones (1971) is another analysis of Plutarch (PDF copy of a review), which might be relevant because
It has been widely held that Plutarch’s purpose in writing the Lives was to explain and to reconcile Greeks to Romans and Romans to Greeks. However, Jones properly points out that Plutarch never mentions such an aim while he frequently states that his aim was moral, to improve his fellows — and himself.
I wonder if these reading materials pushed him to be what Westworld classifies as "Category 47B" (Occurrence .0072% [Rare] - 301.94 Presecutory Subtype; 296.902 Delusions; 301.819 Paranoid Subtype), or if he picked them because they reinforced his world views. [Yup, I'm deep into speculative bean-plating territory.]
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on June 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


The vanishing point they're all converging on is the valley beyond, I guess. Death, maybe. The episode description was a quote from Hurt.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2018


rhamphorhynchus: The vanishing point they're all converging on is the valley beyond, I guess.

There's that, and also from the Insider's episode analysis, the vanishing point is a trick to make a flat image look more realistic, like the tricks to make hosts seem more like people.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh, good point. The vanishing point doesn't exist in reality, just in the representation. We're pretty sure after this episode that the valley beyond is a real thing, so maybe not applicable.

Do we think Ford's definitely dead now? I wasn't sure that we saw Bernard delete Ford, rather than the other way around, but Ford wanted Elsie dead, so it was probably not him in control afterwards. The 'message' delivered to Maeve could have been a complete copy. The Cradle copy's gone. Could be one in the valley-beyond guest-simulator we just had confirmed.

First Emily, which felt like a massive waste of her introduction just six episodes ago
Aye, that felt like a fridging. Introduced and killed off only as part of the MiB's character development.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Do we think MiB's arm-digging will yield an interface next ep, or he'll bleed out after realizing he's not actually a copy of his brain smuggled into a host's body without his knowledge/permission?

I'm rooting for him to learn he's a copy, because the other option's so incredibly sad/bleak I almost can't bear it. I don't enjoy watching mentally ill people kill themselves over delusions of their own making, regardless of the context in which it's presented.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:54 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


There's another option: he was always a host, or at least something similar to hosts. An artificial human body being driven by one of those light bulbs. Something Ford created and planted in the real to help preserve and take control of the park.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:31 PM on June 18, 2018


> There's another option: he was always a host, or at least something similar to hosts. An artificial human body being driven by one of those light bulbs.

Yeah, I wonder if there's something to that.

William and Ford have a conversation at the bar at that party. They talk about Delos staying out of Ford's stories and about Ford staying out of the valley (where the artificial-human-body-being-driven-by-one-of-those-light-bulbs stuff happens?) and then Ford accuses William of breaking that agreement.

Maybe the Man in Black is a copy of real-life William and Ford's mad he's wrecking his stories? Maybe we've been seeing a mix of Billbot and Realliam this whole time?
posted by jprind at 7:30 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also: William talking to his daughter about capturing guest brain state... he seems to say that the hats had brain scanners in them or something
posted by jprind at 7:34 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’ve thought for most of the season that some version of William we’ve seen has been a host or simulation. In this episode, MiB William is explicitly twinned with Teddy — the gun-to-head suicide — which suggests that maybe the MiB is William with the eeeeeevil slider turned all the way up?

(Although I do still think William is a genuine shitheel, so I don’t know how those work together.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:41 PM on June 18, 2018


Maybe the Man in Black is a copy of real-life William

Sure, maybe, but just to be clear what I meant is that there has never been a real-life William to copy.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:04 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


My suspicion is that at some point there was a real William, but Ford killed him and replaced him with Billbot, and that the MiB's story ends with him discovering his own body.
posted by Pyry at 9:22 PM on June 18, 2018


Or, given all the suicide imagery, perhaps the real William committed suicide in the park, and in response Ford replaced him with a host.
posted by Pyry at 9:24 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


> there has never been a real-life William to copy.

Oh! Like Ford's playing the long long game and created William specifically to marry into the Delos family, get them invested in the park, smash up the family a bit lot?

> "Category 47B" ... [Yup, I'm deep into speculative bean-plating territory.]

Northrop Grumman makes an unmanned combat air vehicle (aka murder robot) called the X- ... 47B: William bot confirmed. </plating>
posted by jprind at 9:49 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is now the time we can beanplate the credits?

Season one featured:
* The running horse being built and later appearing with a shooting woman on its back
* A machine drawing the iris of an eye, with the park later projected onto it
* Hosts being built while having sex
* A revolver being shot
* The half-faced woman
* The backstage elements - the wall of lamps and host-building equipment
* The Vitruvian Man in the building-ring sinking into milk

From that, we can see the direct references to the milky host building-fluid and the milk from Abernathy Ranch, perhaps Dolores' break for freedom symbolized by the woman on horseback, literal and potential creation in the two figures having sex, and the violence of the revolver. The significance of the iris is less clear, maybe 'the eye of the beholder' being literally drawn by a creator?

Season two brought:
* The bull being built (in place of the horse), which later breaks free
* A machine injecting ink into a medium (a bowl or sphere?) which spreads, undirected, with the park projected onto it
* Dolores' hair
* The mother and infant being built
* Water (in place of milk) for the woman in the building-ring
* The hat sinking in the water
* Rising bubbles throughout all the water

The bull could represent the disparate groups violently breaking free (Dolores et alia, but also the Shogun World crew), in a different fashion than the horse -- the horse sort of represents the Wild West ideal of personal freedom, whereas a bull is more belligerent and angry, and less companionable -- less controllable. The ink in the sphere may be self-awareness or viral spread of ideas. The mother and infant references Maeve and her daughter (and the rather unsettling idea of host-children, though we have clear evidence of it already) as well as symbolizing the fruit of the creation that took place previously. Water has taken a role in the show in the lake that the dead hosts are in, as well as characters being given to drink. The hat, we know now, is the agent of observing and recording the guests' acts for analysis, and perhaps the sinking refers to the Delos project going, um, poorly. The bubbles could just be there to make clear that it's water but they could make reference to something -- maybe the struggle of hosts to find their own path despite obeying physics/their programming (Teddy, Bernard).

And I'm not entirely sure about this, but it seems to me that, at the very beginning, what I always interpreted as a moon is more sharply in focus in season two. The moon always reminded me of wearing sunglasses in the first season (honestly it reminded me of the moon in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, where the moon is mentioned as resembling a face or a skull), but in the second season you clearly see a syringe or host-filament drawing implement in its eye. So I suppose it's not a moon at all but one of the backstage elements for creating the hosts.

(Dolores' hair is obviously reference to some fabulous shampoo I'd really like to get a bottle of, because it keeps your hair long and strong even when your day goes all wrong!)

Anyhoodle. Poor Clem, being repurposed as Typhoid Mary. And poor Teddy, whose last death is his most meaningful and grievous. I don't suppose it will stop Dolores though. She's got a bad case of righteousness. With Bernard on his way to the Valley to try and stop her, will the two of them meet again in a mirror of their old exchanges?
posted by sldownard at 12:08 AM on June 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, I really want to know where Stubbs, Sizemore, and Felix are! (Sylvester I'm less invested in, though a Sylvester and Lee comic relief duo might not go amiss if we're going to get an unrelenting bleakfest for the finale. I'm just saying, a couple of oneliners, guys, throw me a bone over here.)
posted by sldownard at 12:18 AM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


If the MIB is a host, then his annual visits to Westworld would provide cover to artificially age him appropriately.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:58 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


When did we get actually confirmation that the Valley Beyond exists?
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:08 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just thinking this through (honestly the more I think about it, the dumber it seems, and the more disappointing I realize it will turn out to be), there's another Teddy / William twinning where Teddy, as soon as he's activated, sees Dolores and realizes that she is his cornerstone from that moment. William briefly sees Dolores as the server at the party, and we know that he "imprinted" on her when he arrived in Westworld.

There's too much Teddy / William happening in this episode to be a coincidence, no?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


It would be such an amazing twist if instead of discovering he’s a host, William discovers that he’s actually a Cylon.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:50 AM on June 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


sldownard: The running horse being built and later appearing with a shooting woman on its back

That was Dolores, as seen in a scene in season 1.

And the sinking into and rising out of water seems very biblical to me, in terms of rebirth and being washed clean of sin and all that. I like your distinction between the controlled, tamed horse, and the idea that the "bull is more belligerent and angry, and less companionable -- less controllable."


jprind: William talking to his daughter about capturing guest brain state... he seems to say that the hats had brain scanners in them or something

Grace: But to duplicate a person, you need to capture them down to the tiniest detail. I get the data you have access to here Genetic, epigenetic, that's easy. But still, you'd need a complete picture, a record of the internal process of their cognition. Wouldn't you?
MiB: At first we weren't sure what we'd need. So we recorded everything.
Grace: But how? You'd need to image their minds throughout their stay. Where's the scanner?
MiB: (does something with his hat*) It was built in. Didn't matter who they said they were, who they thought they were. We saw underneath all of that. We saw inside them down to the core.

* I can't recall what he did here, but I think he took his hat off and spun it or something.

"Didn't matter who they said they were, who they thought they were" implied to me that it didn't matter if they picked a white or black hat, Delos saw inside their minds.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:06 AM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


BuddhaInABucket: And then the player piano cover of "All Along the Watchtower" begins to play...
posted by rmd1023 at 8:08 AM on June 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


perhaps the real William committed suicide in the park, and in response Ford replaced him with a host.

We've already had 2 suicides by robot in the park (Arnold and Ford) plus the suicide of William's wife. I'm not sure I can handle yet ANOTHER suicide.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:16 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


LizBoBiz: When did we get actually confirmation that the Valley Beyond exists?

Elsie: What did you find in the Cradle?
Bernard: What they're doing to James Delos they're doing to everyone who's ever visited the park.
Elsie: Replicating their cognition? Why? To turn guests into hosts? You're fucking kidding.
Bernard: That's what's in the facility. All the guests laid bare in code on a vast server. Like the Cradle, only much bigger. It's called the Forge.
Elsie: Jesus.
Bernard: That's where the hosts are headed. Imagine what one host can do with that trove of information.

Emphasis mine, to indicate what I think the end-goal was for Dolores, her "Valley Beyond," of which she said the following in S02E02 (rough transcript):
Feels like everyone got a different name for it, but they're all bound for the same destination. Doesn't matter what you call it, I know what we're going to find there. An old friend was foolish enough to show me long ago. And it's not a place it's a weapon. And I'm going to use it to destroy them.
I forgot when her "old friend" showed it to her, and which friend it was. It doesn't look to be on Insiders updated timeline, current through this episode.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:37 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


When did we get actually confirmation that the Valley Beyond exists?
I took William and Ford's conversation to mean that. William has been storing his guest snapshots there.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:38 AM on June 19, 2018


I forgot when her "old friend" showed it to her, and which friend it was

I assume this was S2E2, where young William remarks upon the valley's fullness of splendor.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:45 AM on June 19, 2018


Is now the time we can beanplate the credits?

I've always figured the opening credits were heavily inspired by Björk's video for All is Full of Love, right down to the embracing white robots, close-up shots of assembly-line machinery, and milk-like fluid. The symbolism of the piano which begins to play itself is obvious enough, as is the buffalo breaking through the glass, but I think a lot of the imagery is just there to look interesting.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:16 AM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


The credits for both seasons have a lot of shots that suggest eyes. Specifically, in season 2:

* The hat sinking in the water

In that shot the rotating hat passes in front of a light -- the moon? -- which briefly makes it look like the pupil of an eye.

This pays off in the "hats are brain scanners". Which, cool, but OH MY GOD SO HOKEY.

Does this mean that all the various parks are necessarily set in hat-wearing cultures? Westworld, OK, lots of Stetsons; Raj World, pith helmets I guess?; I don't remember a lot of hats in Shogun World.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:14 AM on June 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Imagine what one host can do with that trove of information.

I didn't spend very long imagining, but what could a host do with it? Just blackmail? Are we assuming that hosts could get outside the park still?
posted by gladly at 11:18 AM on June 19, 2018


The hats as brain scanners thing is kinda hokey, but what's really getting my goat is the weird etheric mystical whispering that passes for Maeve's wireless communication. Just play a version of a modem handshake or something, people. It's bots talking, not voices in the wind.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:40 AM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Do we think Ford's definitely dead now? [...] The 'message' delivered to Maeve could have been a complete copy.

We saw the demonstration of Clementine infecting hosts with malware over the mesh network a few scenes before that, so I'm pretty sure that whatever Ford-riding-Bernard transmitted to Maeve was more than just a "cheer up you always were my favorite" pep talk.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


fMRIs disguised as cowboy hats are about as plausible as selective-lethality bullets. So, I'm not complaining.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone comment on this, but I got the very distinct impression during the flashback to Juliet's suicide that William was deliberately engineering the whole thing.

* At one point, someone suggests that he should take Juliet home, but he says he'll do it later. She proceeds to get more drunk and visibly out of control.
* He arranges for Emily to come by later in the evening, where she is conveniently placed to see Juliet's state, threaten her with institutionalization, and witness (and take responsibility for) the subsequent events.
* At one point he mentions to Juliet that she was the only one who saw through him, and expresses regret about that. The way he said it reminded me of the bad guy cliche of "I'm sorry you know my secret, because now I have to kill you."
* William's look when he sees Juliet in the tub, you could interpret it as shock but it really looked like something more going on.

The scenario that played out in my head was that William built the Forge and started collecting tons of data on humans, in an attempt (at least officially) to simulate a person's brain. And what the data showed was that people are just as predictable, just as captive to whatever "script" is in their heads, as any host. And William utterly despises people for this -- hence his fury at the thought that Ford is trying to impose a script on him -- but is simultaneously thrilled at the power this gives him to predict (and thus control) others. He goes on to achieve phenomenal success, by manipulating everyone around him by pressing the buttons he knows are there even when the subject doesn't. But this also feeds into his alienation toward humanity and inclination to treat people as mere instruments for his own ends. Juliet is the only one who sees the monster behind the facade, and she is working to undermine his otherwise-successful gaslighting of everyone else (especially Emily), so he manipulates Juliet and Emily into a scenario that takes Juliet out but leaves him above suspicion.

And that look when he sees Juliet? It's simultaneously the satisfaction that his plan actually worked, and disappointment that in the end Juliet really did walk straight through the narrative he'd set up for her. Because in his eyes, this makes her no more "real" than Dolores.
posted by bjrubble at 1:15 PM on June 19, 2018 [24 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that whatever Ford-riding-Bernard transmitted to Maeve was more than just a "cheer up you always were my favorite" pep talk.

Her ipad said CORE PERMISSIONS UNLOCKED or something like that so it seems safe to assume that Maeve is root.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:43 PM on June 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


[maeve@westworld ~]$ shoot that guy
Permission denied
[maeve@westworld ~]$ sudo shoot that guy
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:50 PM on June 19, 2018 [46 favorites]


There's too much Teddy / William happening in this episode to be a coincidence

One might go so far as to say that the first season was their excellent adventure and their second season is more of a bogus journey.

San Dimas football rules!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:33 PM on June 19, 2018 [28 favorites]


The intro did feature a wild stallion, did it not?
posted by hijinx at 4:57 PM on June 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


Unclear, is Ford Rufus or is he Death?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:03 PM on June 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


The bull could represent the disparate groups violently breaking free (Dolores et alia, but also the Shogun World crew), in a different fashion than the horse -- the horse sort of represents the Wild West ideal of personal freedom, whereas a bull is more belligerent and angry, and less companionable -- less controllable.

It's a buffalo. Symbolic of a mighty plains species that roamed in vast numbers and then was brought to the brink of extinction by white people, who shot them by the hundreds for sport.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:06 PM on June 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Oh and we got an answer to a question from last season! Turns out Maeve going back for her child was against her coding.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:45 PM on June 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


But wait, the whole question of if the MiB is a 'bot or not was totally not answered. William clearly started to feel some kind of dissociation between his life outside the park and his life inside the park, that he was more 'real' in the game than outside of it. And there were a few scenes of him scratching his arm in the spot where the hardwire connection is made with the hosts - YET! when he's scanned by the QA/humans with guns, it comes up as unequivocally human. Grace's scan we are NOT shown (she could still be a host!) And in the last scene of William, he is digging in his arm with a knife, as though to get at the hardwire spot. Psychosis? Or plot device?

Also, Elsie saying to Bernard "You're going to kill me." was Atwood's quote ("Men worry women will laugh at them, women worry men will kill them.") Made flesh. This moment gave me chills.

Also also, ... what's really getting my goat is the weird etheric mystical whispering that passes for Maeve's wireless communication. Just play a version of a modem handshake or something... It's bots talking, not voices in the wind. So true - this would make the eeriness of their evolution much more powerful and alien.

There was an interesting talk by Joy and Nolan at E3 where they talk about how games influenced their process. Also, Joy is clearly the brains of the operation.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:55 AM on June 20, 2018


It struck me as weirdly specific when I watched it and I just rewatched to confirm - when the rescue team scans the base of MiB's neck the scanner says it's looking for "restraint ordnance." The UI is notably simple and cleanly shot compared to all the other looks we get at host iPads.

I assume that ordnance is what Maeve had removed from her build last season and would presumably not be part of a MiB host build that was moving freely in and out of the park either. I'd say that scanner scene lies somewhere between inconclusive and "intentional red herring."
posted by range at 2:28 AM on June 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that scanner thing seemed a bit misdirection-y. So in a terrible game of what if, what if William died at some point -- maybe a long time ago, maybe not, we can paper over it either way -- and Juliet had them make a Bernard-style host of him, a decision that, over the years, she came to regret.

Which is pretty stupid, but.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:48 AM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


From the intro, there are juxtaposed clips of a robot stringing a piano and a robot arm stringing a tendon. At least, that's how it looked to me.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2018


They still haven't explained why some hosts were "empty" and had no imprint, so it's possible the MIB is "empty".
posted by Brocktoon at 1:39 PM on June 20, 2018


I was thinking that maybe Dad Delos made robot William (possibly signaled by the moment he switches from white to black hat) for perennially unstable Juliet, because RL William had become so besotted with Delores that he was no longer interested in marrying her and was getting deeper and deeper into park life... and maybe wound up living there as real life MIB. Robot William|MIB wasn't programmed with all the how-to info, which is why he couldn't replicate Dad Delos effectively, no matter how hard he tried, even though the company had the requisite IP. That explains why the minions kept being surprised that the replication wasn't working. Juliet kills herself because she realizes her whole marriage is a sham; her drinking probably had to do with her inklings of disconnection. That leaves Emily's parenthood somewhat up in the air, but I think the time line is confusing enough that real William could have fathered her before the switcheroo.
posted by carmicha at 3:59 PM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nah. My wife would love to discover that I'm actually a reprogrammable robot. I think the big reveal with William will be something he did, not something he is.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Am I alone in thinking that Emily is likely not dead? It just felt too abrupt and unearned for such a badass character. Plus, this is the show that has already indulged those of us in the Syrio Forel fan club with Elsie's shocking resurrection, so I put nothing past them.
posted by Cogito at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes, in Emily's erotic adventure into she shot her paramour "to prove he was human". But he was knocked out for a few minutes. The cutaway from that scene was too quick to know if she was really... something.
posted by sammyo at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2018


So in an earlier episode Sizemore explains to Charlotte (or the reverse) that the folks on the outside were expecting a package and until they got it there would be no rescue. Was Maeve the package? She was leaving WW at the end of Season 1 but changed her programming.
posted by sammyo at 6:17 PM on June 20, 2018


Pa Abernathy was the package.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:19 PM on June 20, 2018


And now in Dolores’ possession even.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:39 PM on June 20, 2018


Hmmm.... the MIB who shot Emily has been using his big gun to kill a lot of robots, but no real people... so wouldn't Emily be waking up in a few minutes like the guy she shot in "India?"
posted by carmicha at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2018


[This] MIB knows he's a robot. And he assumes this Emily is a robot too because he thinks Ford screwed up by programming her to "know" about his profile card when he never told anyone about it. So he would have used a robot killer bullet then, which means if Emily is real she should be returning to consciousness soon.

But... apparently Juliet rescued the ballerina jewellry box from the trash, because that's where she placed the profile card. I may have spaced out a little during Emily's monologue about tossing it out and returning to retrieve it too late; failing to mention its return seems like a strange omission when Emily is telling MIB both the story of the box and the story of knowing about the card.
posted by carmicha at 7:26 PM on June 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


> Bernard: That's where the hosts are headed. Imagine what one host can do with that trove of information.

This is where I had my wife pause the show so I could remark on what nonsense storytelling this is (to me, Joe Average Viewer). Bernard says this and they jump in the vehicle and speed off because ... because what? What could a host do with that trove of information? They'll still be in the middle of the park. I simply do not understand the huge immediate threat that is meant to be so apparent to these characters.
posted by komara at 7:58 PM on June 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


[to be clear I'm just saying that usually in an action sequence like this it's something along the lines of "and if they make it to that button they'll blow up the whole thing! We have to get there first!" not "and if they make it to that place they'll learn stuff! We have to get there first!"]
posted by komara at 7:59 PM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


If the Man In Black is really a host, what if Ford has created a hell for him by making him search and search for meaning, try to kill himself but always be reborn right back into the world? It's his ultimate punishment, someone who tried to exert control over everything finding out over and over again that he is being controlled by someone else.

Also, RIP Turbo Teddy (TM).
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:32 PM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


...Juliet rescued the ballerina jewellry box from the trash, because that's where she placed the profile card

That Emily later has in her hand and must have gotten from the ... box...

Wait, and whose perspective are we seeing when the card goes in the box? It’s not William’s because he thinks he put it in Slaughterhouse Five. If it’s the ‘reality’ Emily lives in then what was that with the box?

If Emily is a Fordbot then she knows about the card and maybe the memory of Emily’s that the box went in the trash but not that Juliette hauled it out and kept it in her makeup drawer, used it to put the card in - which later Emily has.

Ergo, Emily is a Fordbot - why doesn’t she want to have sex with other Fordbots? Does she not know she’s a bot? Or does she just prefer sex with humans (which would be an interesting twist.)
posted by From Bklyn at 2:54 AM on June 21, 2018


I read Emily's story of the jewelry box as her telling half the story of how she found the profile card. As presented the whole story seemed pretty clear: Emily chucked the box, unbeknownst to her Juliet rescues it and keeps it. Much later, Juliet finds profile card (knowing where it is because she was awake the whole time William was supervillain-monologuing to her), sees horrifying contents, puts card in jewelry box, ends up in tub. Then Emily is going through Mom's effects, finds jewelry box and gets the card. Emily tells the first half when she's still trying to get what she wants by appealing to Dad's need for closure, because the second half reveals that she already knows why Juliet died and she has another agenda.

In this reading, MiB kills Emily because he can't imagine that there's knowledge he doesn't have, in what seemed like an almost-too-apt "brought down by hubris" tragic vein.

I will say that I've watched the scene a couple times now and he really just BARELY tags her in the upper arm (compared to the bloodbath full-torso shots on the rescue team). We've seen people handle much worse on this show and she's right next to the medkit...
posted by range at 4:59 AM on June 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


Hmmm.... the MIB who shot Emily has been using his big gun to kill a lot of robots, but no real people

Except that's one of the park paramilitary guns, the kind we've been seeing armored troopers getting mowed down with since the S01 finale. Since those guns are external to the narratives and guests/hosts would not have access to them otherwise, it wouldn't make sense to have them enabled with the selective-lethality ammo that the in-park guns have. I think dead is dead in this case.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:31 AM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think narratively it's way better (given the options*) if she's dead; letting Emily survive that scene feels like just gratuitously yanking our chain. My pet meta-theory is they had her get shot in the upper arm to better frame her action of reaching for the card, and inadvertently recreated a getting-shot scenario/location that we've seen a bunch of people survive.

(* I actually thought the best scenario was to have her shot but obviously alive so they could include her more in MiB's descent, but I also understand there's only one episode left and they want to try to wrap up each season as a complete story, so they need to be taking pieces off the board - I'm mostly bummed this means they don't foresee a season 3 role for her, given her epic introduction.)
posted by range at 6:02 AM on June 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Was it ever explained how Host weapons now fire "real" bullets?
posted by Brocktoon at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I believe they previously said something about how the park systems that monitor that sort of thing are reading everyone as a host regardless of if they’re host or human.
posted by skycrashesdown at 2:05 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


i swear, if the finale lazily saz "one of these timelines is actually a form of limbo in the afterlife" like in fucking lost... we should feed the writers to sharks
posted by lalochezia at 9:03 PM on June 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


The actress who plays Emily gave an interview in the Hollywood Reporter about her understanding of Emily's motivation, storyline and fate.

However most of the actors who've given interviews in the press have made it clear that they generally have no clue what the larger storylines are, and sometimes do a scene a few different ways as the show creators decide which direction to take, so take it as an educated guess.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:08 PM on June 21, 2018


Was it ever explained how Host weapons now fire "real" bullets?

They always shoot real bullets but they've got a gizmo in them that can tell if you're pointing them at a host or human and if you're pointing it at a human they only shoot the bullet a little bit so it's like someone just throwing the bullet at you.

tl;dr: They're wizards, Harry.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:41 AM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


The book that William tucks his profile card into: Slaughterhouse-Five.

Billy Pilgrim goes through the same narratives over and over in a similar way to the robots in the park. Also that book has a lot to say about free-will as an illusion.

I've always thought that the player pianos in WW were a shout-out to Vonnegut's book of that name.
posted by octothorpe at 11:17 AM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


WHT IS HAPPENING WHO IS ROBOT THIS IS STRESSFUL
posted by poffin boffin at 2:17 PM on June 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


if i am a robot i need a hardware update
posted by poffin boffin at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2018


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