Westworld Season 2, Episode 3 Review: Finally, Something New

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Westworld Season 2, Episode 3, “Virtù e Fortuna,” featured the biggest battle in Westworld history, a sitar cover of The White Stripes’ 2003 hit “Seven Nation Army,” and some of the funniest moments in the whole series. But best of all, it finally showed us something new.

It wasn’t Shogun World, like we’ve been waiting to see since Westworld Season 1. But it was a new park: India World, or Empire World, or whatever it winds up being called, which appears to be set during the British Empire occupation of India, the time of big beige hats, Bengal tiger hunts, and elephant gun safaris. And the characters there, whoever they may be, had just as bad a time as those in Westworld when Ford kicked off his final game.

This cold open also demonstrated where that tiger seen in the Season 2 premiere came from, and by the end we learned that the mysterious woman–a guest who clearly knows her way around the place–survived to claw her way out of the water. No doubt she’ll pop up again, also judging by the way she conspicuously kept fretting over her notebook. The camera lingered on it enough times in this episode’s opening that you have to wonder what it contains.

There’s a lot of meaning to be mined from the episode title, “Virtù e Fortuna.” It’s derived from a 16th century political treatise by Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat and political theorist (whose name is the source of the term “Machiavellian,” meaning “cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics or in advancing one’s career”). Essentially, virtue and fortune are two opposing and competing forces–fortune representing the whims of fate, while virtue is the control you wrest over your own destiny. Yes, I read the Wikipedia, and the Cliff’s Notes.

Obviously, there are plenty of ways to apply that to Westworld. But these ideas proved most relevant this week for Maeve, Hector, and Sizemore, who shared some fascinating creator-on-creations conversations in “Virtù e Fortuna.” Hector gave us some valuable context when he revealed that, essentially, the awoken hosts get to choose what they believe in. “When I awoke in the place where you play God, I realized Isabella was a lie, just words in my head,” he tells Sizemore. But while Maeve and Dolores must have had the same realization about their attachments–Maeve, her daughter, and Dolores, her father–they choose to cling to those relics of their past, fake lives anyway. They wrest their destinies away from the whims of fate, and choose what’s important to them.

Sizemore only undermines that epiphany slightly when he reveals that for all their breakthroughs, the hosts are still sticking to his script.

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Elsewhere in Westworld Season 2, Episode 3, Dolores and Teddy’s storyline intersected with Bernard and Charlotte’s. The timelines remained muddled this week, with a brief scene set in the “present” before Bernard flashed back to the aftermath of the party a couple of weeks earlier (guess that “time displacement” we learned about in the premiere is no joke).

We learned that Charlotte survived for those two weeks as well, though how much both she and Bernard know about Abernathy’s current whereabouts isn’t made clear. It seems someone must have delivered him outside the park, since Delos finally sent in the big guns, but we don’t yet know whether that was Bernard or Charlotte–or whether some other circumstances of which we’re still unaware interfered in the whole scheme.

The last we saw in the aftermath of the fighting, Charlotte had made off with Abernathy, her Delos security minions leaving Dolores with two bullet wounds as a parting gift. What happens after that, we’ll have to wait and see.

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Dolores’s actions this episode are pretty puzzling. Her crusade hasn’t been limited to killing guests by any means, but her wholesale betrayal and massacre of the troops at Fort Forlorn Hope seemed gratuitous, even by Wyatt’s standards. Clearly Teddy agreed, which is why he let their remnants go, sowing the seeds of what’s sure to become a conflict between him and Dolores.

For Dolores’s part, she’s taking the whole “robot Jesus” thing pretty seriously. Clearly she’s judging her fellow hosts and deciding who does and doesn’t deserve to reach The Valley Beyond. And the two sides of her identity–the farmer’s daughter Dolores and the villainous Wyatt–are taking turns behind the wheel, it seems.

The battle itself may have been the biggest in Westworld history, but it wasn’t exactly Game of Thrones. Delos security forces didn’t seem all that impressive walking slowly toward the fort, and Angela ended it all pretty succinctly with that well-placed shot. The more exciting side to this fight came from Bernard’s attempts to decrypt whatever massive file Abernathy’s hiding. By the end it seemed he’d succeeded, though we didn’t get to see what exactly the file was. And if you looked closely at the screen, you could see the words “one time use key;” so whatever Bernard uncovered, it probably won’t be there at all when Charlotte cracks into Abernathy’s thick skull later. It makes her line when they meet again later–“What about you, Bernard? Do you have any idea where Peter Abernathy might have gone?”–seem even more ripe with hidden meanings.

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The one downside to Dolores’s transformation into Wyatt is that her proselytizing has become pretty insufferable. Seeing her and Bernard talk openly about their existences as hosts was neat, but almost everything that’s come out of Dolores’s mouth this season has been steeped in dogma. It makes it harder to root for her than, say, Maeve in her search for her daughter. Maybe that’s intentional, and Westworld is turning Dolores into the villain–or maybe we’ll grow to like her again by the end of Season 2. Whatever she finds in Sweetwater–her next destination–hopefully it brings her back down to earth.

Even then, the biggest tease in Westworld Season 2, Episode 3, surely came at the very end, when what appeared to be a katana-wielding ninja charged at Maeve in the show’s first snowy environment. We still haven’t really seen Shogun World yet–boy, they’re really dragging this out, aren’t they?–but there’s always next week.

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