Despite the show’s name we always knew Westworld wasn’t the only park on offer to guests when vacationing courtesy of DELOS. While season 1 kept us well within the borders of the first park, Westworld season 2 promised we’d be visiting others. Well, that’s exactly what happens in episode 3, Virtù e Fortuna, and it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed by what you see. Unfortunately, the excitement of the new is too much for the rest of the episode to live up to and you’ll find yourself mildly bored by everything that happens in the main park this week. Westworld better watch out, it’s got competition! That said, this episode does see the return of some fan favourites, which will no doubt please audiences, and the main plot threads continue to push on in interesting, if slightly unbelievable, ways.
Note: From here on out there are specific plot spoilers for Westworld season 2, episode 3 - Virtù e Fortuna.
The opening sequence of episode 3 is one of the best we’ve ever seen. You didn’t realise it, but the showrunners subtly tricked you into thinking the next DELOS World you’d see would be Shogun World. Instead, Virtù e Fortuna kicks off in imperialist India where guests hunt tigers, ride elephants, and are served very sophisticated teas by the locals. It’s a great surprise and a refreshingly new setting, which introduces compelling new characters, confirms Westworld isn’t the only park at war, and answers a few questions we’ve had since the very first teaser trailer for Westworld season 2 landed (that tiger). It’s almost a shame to leave, but back to Westworld we go as we rejoin Strand and co (including Bernard) who meet up with Charlotte who’s still looking for Peter Abernathy and the lost data inside his head.
Back in the slightly earlier timeline, Dolores manages to convince the rest of the Confederados to join forces with her zombie Host army so they can see off the Westworld security teams together. Before they can arrive though, papa Abernathy, Bernard (who’s been separated from Charlotte since the last time we saw him), and a few human guests turn up captured. Abernathy isn’t feeling so good, and who can blame him? After basically being lobotomised at the beginning of season 1, he’s had a huge amount of important data and a thin character narrative shoved in his head so he could be smuggled out of the park. But that’s not what happened and instead he’s been wandering around Westworld glitching between past narratives and suffering from Alzheimer-like symptoms. Dolores tries to get Bernard to fix him, but the former Head of Programming doesn’t have much luck, in no small part due to the fact that he’s still suffering from some damage of his own. The emotional exchange between daughter and father is beautifully sad and you could easily forget you’re watching two robots (and not a human family) dealing with a parent’s illness.
Before long it doesn’t matter because the security forces are attacking and Dolores’ followers and the Confederados must do battle. This is perhaps the only part of the episode which doesn’t quite work. Unlike HBO’s other major money-maker, Game of Thrones, Westworld doesn’t really do big battle sequences well. At least, not yet. If you’re looking for poignant character development or short, sharp bursts of brutal violence, there’s nothing better, but the skirmish that breaks out between the Hosts and the humans in this episode is far from unforgettable. Even worse, at times it doesn’t even make sense. Why would Westworld’s security team attack by walking on foot up to the front of a heavily fortified Fort with nothing more than their usual handguns? Use choppers and bombs people! Allowances could be made for the timeline - remember this is still only supposed to be a few days after the gala, so perhaps the security teams don’t think the Hosts are much of a threat yet - but sadly, that doesn’t make the action any more compelling. You could basically skip this bit right up until the point Dolores betrays the Confederados and then tune back in for Teddy’s conflicted emotional look. While all this has been going on, Dolores’s Dad has been snatched by Charlotte’s men and Dolores has been shot a couple of times, but seems to be fine - I hope we get an explanation for that at some point.
Westworld season 2 episode recap, and everything else you need to know
Finally, we rejoin Maeve, Hector, and Lee as they continue on their journey to try and find Maeve’s daughter but, after being attacked by some Native American Hosts, they’re forced underground where they’re reunited with Armistice, Felix, and Sylvester. Yay, their group is back together again! It’s genuinely exciting to see these three characters return who, despite being secondary cast members, have provided us with some of the best Westworld moments to date. Sadly, we don’t get to see much of them before the group come face-to-face with a Samurai and the credits roll, but that in itself is more exciting than Dolores’s whole episode 3 storyline put together.
The new elements of this episode are by far the best parts of Virtù e Fortuna and you’ll no doubt wish you saw more of imperialist India world and Shogun World, but the showrunners are nothing if not big teases! While Dolores’ storyline this week leaves much to be desired, everything else surrounding it more than makes up for the disappointment. Episode 3 lacks some of the apparent complexity of past episodes, but you can’t say nothing happened - we just perhaps don’t know (or care right now) why it happened. If I know Westworld, we’ll look back on the episode with new eyes once the motivations behind Dolores’s decisions come to light, but for now it feels more than a little lackluster compared to the exciting new worlds of imperialist India and Shogun World. More of that please!