The trailers for Westworld season 2 have been deliberately cryptic and kept a lot hidden - and as this week's episode, "Reunion," reveals, one of the big secrets that was kept hidden was a new cast member: Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito as a new version of crime lord El Lazo. The character was played by Clifton Collins Jr. in the past-set scenes of season 1, as an alter ego of his character Lawrence, but it seems that at some point in the interim decades the character was split into two people. Collins' host is still Lawrence, but Esposito's host is the new El Lazo.
In season 1, El Lazo only appears in the scenes featuring young William (played by Jimmi Simpson) and Dolores. In the present-day scenes Collins' character is known only as Lawrence, and is saved from the gallows by the Man in Black, only to later be gruesomely sacrificed in order to provide Teddy with a blood transfusion. In the past-set scenes, William, Dolores and Logan encounter El Lazo in his criminal stronghold, a town called Pariah. The trio take a job from El Lazo stealing nitroglycerine for a group called the Confederados, but when it's revealed that El Lazo has double-crossed the Confederados, Dolores and William make a break for it - leaving Logan at the mercy of the angry soldiers (he makes the best of a bad situation). While on the train carrying them away from Pariah, El Lazo tells Dolores and William that his real name is Lawrence.
In "Reunion," William and Lawrence team up again on a journey to the West, and it's at the end of the episode that they have a run-in with the new El Lazo. The pair arrive in Pariah to find that the resident hosts have been massacred by El Lazo, who has moved beyond his original narrative because of the new "game," and now finds himself without purpose. William tries to recruit El Lazo and, when that fails, tries to take his men instead. But it seems that this encounter was merely the latest level in the new game that Robert Ford designed for William - the search for "The Door." El Lazo tells the Man in Black, "This game was meant for you William, but you must play it alone," and then he and all his men shoot themselves.
Obviously death isn't always permanent in Westworld, thanks to the fact that most of the characters featured in the show are robots, and it's possible that Dolores and her pet technician will be able to bring El Lazo back. If it turns out that he only ever appears in that one scene, it will be a little disappointing; one of Westworld's greatest strengths is its pedigree cast, and Esposito would have been an excellent addition as a regular cast member instead of just a five-minute cameo. Intriguingly, El Lazo says that he will see William again "in the Valley Beyond."
If Esposito was only available to film one scene, then at least it was a memorable one. But we'll still hold on to the same that his version of El Lazo will return somehow this season - perhaps when we find out exactly what the "Valley Beyond" really is.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.