Phase Space officially takes us into the second half of Westworld season 2 and while I’d love to report that Dolores’s storyline has come into its own and things are finally starting to come together for a shocking finale of epic proportions… that’s sadly not the case as episode 6 delivers the worst hour of television of the new season so far. We’re still talking about Westworld of course, so it’s certainly not bad TV, but by HBO’s standards Phase Space is pretty boring and largely just full of plot points which ‘have to happen’ and play out with little-to-no excitement. Definitely one you could miss, episode 6 feels more like a storytelling tool as it picks up with every character and plot thread so far and slowly shuffles them all along in an unentertaining and clinical way.
Note: From here on out there are specific plot spoilers for Westworld season 2, episode 6 - Phase Space.
In terms of plot, there’s plenty - and simultaneously very little - to talk about in episode 6. Things happen, that’s for sure. Maeve and her group leave Musashi and Akane (and anything of interest) in Shogun World before returning to Westworld and finding Maeve’s daughter. The Man in Black and his daughter have a bit of a chat before he leaves her behind to continue his game. Dolores and the newly reprogrammed Teddy move forward with their painfully slow plan to… well, it’s still not clear what they’re actually doing. Charlotte and Stubbs keep Peter Abernathy locked down and call in the reinforcements (who turn out not to be Strand and his men). And Bernard and Elsie break into the Cradle (CR4-DL) to investigate how the Westworld system is fighting back against its former masters, but for some reason avoid their co-workers wandering around the same complex. The problem is that nothing really happens. Every storyline merely moves each character’s narrative along by a minute degree, so that together it makes an ok hour of TV minus any real entertainment.
Maeve stumbles across her daughter way too quickly given how long her group has spent getting to this point, and it doesn’t help that she’s apparently shocked that her child has another mother now. How did she not see that coming? Nothing about this plot thread is resolved either, so I guess we have to wait until the next episode for some sort of pay off. The Man in Black and his daughter Grace have a truly touching conversation, which continues the season 1 villain’s transformation into a relatable and emotional character, and the performances by both Ed Harris and Katja Herbers are to be commended, but this is basically all that happens to them in the entire episode before they’re split up again.
Dolores and Teddy… oh god, what can I say about this storyline that I haven’t said before?! It’s just so slow. They finally get on the train in this episode and it in fact leaves Sweetwater(!), but only to travel a few yards down the track and deliver a bomb to the Westworld control room HQ. Oh, and Dolores is also shocked that Teddy is now a bit evil. How did she not see that coming? Charlotte and Stubbs’s storyline feels pointless as they’re joined by a combat team we’ve never seen before meaning they’ll almost certainly die soon, and we already know she loses Abernathy at some point thanks to the ‘current’ timeline (AKA, the Strand timeline) so why should we even care? Finally, Elsie and Bernard spend all their time just standing in front of a computer! While they certainly don’t achieve much, at least their story thread hints at something much more exciting to come - *cough* Ford *cough* - but even the ‘big reveal’ at the end of the episode isn’t enough to save Phase Space.
Given my feelings on episode 6 you might wonder why I’ve given it a 3 star rating and as Westworld episodes go, this is certainly one of the worst. However, much like the MCU, even the worst Westworld episode is still ok/good TV and my frustrations with Phase Space stem more from the fact that we’re a mere four episodes from the finale and I’ve seen nothing yet which proves we’ll be getting the high-quality ending we’ve come to expect from Westworld. Believe me, I would love to be proved wrong and I’m still clinging to hope that in those final few episodes we’ll see Dolores’s storyline really take hold and push this show into unexpected areas just like its first season did. For now though, Phase Space on its own is a pretty medorice episode and while it may come to be seen as a semi-boring blip in the overall awesomeness which is Westworld season 2 (fingers crossed!), it could equally mark the beginning of the end of a show which is struggling to live up to its first season.