***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 1 follow. Spoilers***
If you were worried Westworld creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy would hold back the action, or leave the excitement for its super-sized season premiere until “Journey into Night’s” final moments, I presume those thoughts were quickly banished. From gorgeous alterations to an already phenomenal opening title sequence (baby!), to the quick return of Stubbs and a new militant Head of Operations ordering gruesome beachside executions and a gnarly dissection to gain the information about the eleven days ago slaughter-fest, Season 2 kicked off full flourish. It was, at many moments, exhilarating.
Amid breathtaking sweeping shots of the huge landscape that beg contemplating the park’s location, Wyatt-infused Dolores (reluctant Teddy by her side) satisfies her bloodlust, terrorizing the last of the Delos executives with questions their minions have been asking her for years. Her cheeky answers bring fear to their hearts and glee to ours (doesn’t look like anything to her ), “I’m of several minds …”. The Man (William) in Black rouses himself just in time for more killing games, grabs his hat and tends to his injuries, while Maeve amusingly saves Lee Sizemore from the hungry clutches of that cannibalistic Host. Attempting to direct his own out-of-control narrative, Sizemore‘s ego might get him killed; for now, Maeve settles on delicious retaliatory humiliation, heading out with Hector to find her (“What is real?”) daughter.
Sensing danger, a vigilant (“It’s a trap”) Bernard and full-of-surprises, Charlotte Hale pair up and escape a Ghost Nation attack, secret themselves away through an unknown-to-Bernard outpost, where he’s (and we are) introduced to a new kind of — Drone — Host. Trembling hand, clearly injured — critical corruption — (a) Bernard (there are several) self-repairs behind his human companion’s back, noting that all his kind have a subconscious link to the next nearest Host, to pass information ant-colony-like; he’ll use that “mesh network” to locate Peter Abernathy aka “The Package” someone on the outside of Westworld proper (more on that, shortly) needs to receive before any rescue extraction.
Not to be upstaged by the Man-in-Black’s dispatching young Robert, Strand, Stubbs and Co. take note of a maggot-infested Ford, the elder. Off to investigate a cluster of floating Hosts, a … wandering Bengal (tiger, that is), and an un-surveyed city, the group is confounded by multiple anomalies. While in one timeline, Teddy implores Dolores to reconsider her reckoning plans, in another, Bernard confesses his role in the game: “I killed them. All of them” … Teddy (at least one copy) included.
If we weren’t already questioning the nature of Westworld’s reality, “Journey into Night” sent our senses spinning. How many timelines are we seeing? From my calculations, there are at least three in this premiere:
- The immediate aftermath of the finale massacre (Bernard [black shirt], Charlotte and executives on the run from killer Hosts, Dolores [white shirt, grey/blue skirt] and Teddy)
- Somewhere between eleven days (nine hours) and two weeks after the finale massacre (Stubbs, Strand and soldiers investigating, Bernard [white shirt])
- Whenever Bernard [black shirt] and Dolores [blue dress] are having their opening session, speaking of which …
Is Dolores now questioning Bernard? Has there been some sort of role reversal in their relationship? It certainly seemed like Bernard was working out his confusion in the opening scene.
In at least two of the Bernard timelines, his hand is shaking. Or, two Bernards’ hands are shaking. There are clearly multiple copies of Hosts, at the very least, multiple Bernards.
Charlotte’s secret lab (and access/entry) was mind-blowing, not only for us but for Bernard. Let’s talk about her online communication, login “XOmegaCH“. She asks for extraction, but because Abernathy has yet to be collected — found — the (presumably Delos) party on the other end has refused to send help.
What if whoever is on the other end of Charlotte’s conversation is the real Dr. Ford? You know how I feel about that finale shooting; either that was a Host Ford, or a copy; Ford is no doubt “alive” in some way, somewhere (uploaded consciousness?).
Speaking of copies, Bernard figured out from what the über-creepy Drone Hosts are doing, that DNA is being collected. Bernard, himself, has DNA (which I don’t think we knew before), as Charlotte told Bernard the Drone knew he wasn’t a thread because it read Bernard’s DNA.
Copies — this and young Robert’s line to the Man in Black, “Everything is code here” only reinforces my theory that there are no longer any humans in Westworld-land. Doubly-reinforced by William in Black replying, “The folly of my kind. There’s always a yearning for more.” This is yet another hint that the ultimate aim/goal for investors is/was immortality (also, why Ford isn’t “dead“).
We also learned that when Bernard was severely injured, it caused hand-tremors, and clear liquid to leak from his ear; probably the about-to-be-critical error that Bernard (presumably) fixed by injecting fluid from another Host into himself. Is that akin to spinal fluid, or something like stem cells, that help repair? It’s interesting that a) he hid his repair from Charlotte, and b) Charlotte keeps asking if he’s okay, and though there has clearly been a massive issue with Hosts turning on humans, she doesn’t seem at all worried that Bernard will cause her any issue. For such a smart woman, this seems … not smart.
So … is that because she actually has no idea Bernard is a Host? After multiple rewatches, it appears as if she doesn’t, especially when speaking to Bernard as they hide from Angela and Co. (“It’s a trap”). Charlotte responding to Bernard’s suggestion that maybe Dolores pulled the trigger on Ford of her own free will: “I think you’ve been spending a little too much time around these things, Bernard. They do what they’re programmed to do.”
The computer reported Bernard’s problem thusly: “Entering death subroutine. Attention: Critical corruption. Symptoms of critical corruption: Loss of motor functions, cognitive dissonance, time slippage, aphasia [inability to speak or understand language], prosopagnosia [inability to recognize faces]. Time remaining before terminal malfunction: zero point seven two hours.”
While our feelings over Dolores’ reckoning methods might be tempered by her propensity for violent delights, with Maeve, there’s nothing but pure glee. Her drives are different from Dolores’, and though she’s not above a little fun turning the tables on Sizemore (heh, his name now has new meaning), I prefer her evolution to Dolores’ rage-fueled vengeance. Thank you, Lisa Joy (who co-wrote this episode with Sons of Anarchy‘s Robert Patino), for giving these Westworld women — Charlotte Hale, too — all the power this hour.
Teddy seems to be questioning the nature of his reality with Dolores. Though he’s her constant (speaking of, how great would it be if Westworld brought in a Lost veteran or two? Henry Ian Cusick would be perfect.) , Mr. Flood seems to be having second thoughts about blindly following her. And, when Dolores mentions that what started with the two of them will thus similarly end, we have to wonder if by “end” the writers mean that Teddy will be the one to take out his true love.
Bernard notes: “Ford must have altered the system, coded it to read all of us as Hosts.” I’m willing to bet there’ll be a callback to that line, and that it wasn’t only Ford’s tinkering affecting the murderous Host behavior. Both Dolores and Maeve seem to be able to direct Hosts as well, and what about that “mesh network”? Is Bernard using it not only to send innocuous queries, but to direct Host behavior?
Stubbs’ line that “Ford’s been terraforming the park” made me think my Westworld’s in Space theory is even more plausible, though the popular thought is that it’s on a remote island off China.
Did Ford create that sea, or could the park itself be evolving? (“Everything is code here.”)
Welcome, Gustaf Skarsgård’s Karl Strand, who quickly set about establishing his “superior” (to Stubbs) authority and decisive investigative methods — thanks Fares Fares’ Antoine Costa for that scalping! Floki came in like a lion so … well you know how that usually goes.
Betty Gabriel’s Mailing has a set of Host ID Cards; handy!
People who take issue with Stubbs’ return — no explanation — I have no doubt we’ll get the backstory on his escape from the Ghost Nation warriors in another episode. And, not to be Spoilerish, but we know Elsie (Shannon Woodward) will be back at some point; she’s listed for Season 2 (and the actress has been at premieres).
Hector and Maeve are SO.DAMNED.HOT.
Music This Hour:
Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer
Dolores: “What is real?”
Bernard: “That which is irreplaceable.”
Bernard: “Is this now?”
Strand to Stubbs: If I want input from the man responsible for the single largest loss of life in Delos history, I’d ask you.
Technician pulling out “brain”: “This can get gross.”
Dolores: “I told you friend, not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond.”
Exec: “It’s a machine, just like the rest of them. I’m not taking any chances.”
Dolores: “Survival. It’s your cornerstone.”
MiB: “We’re gonna have some fun, now.”
Maeve to Lee: “”Don’t work yourself up, Darling. Your commands don’t work on me. I killed myself getting this security clearance. Multiple times.
“… I will relieve you of your most precious organ and feed it to you. Though it won’t make much of a meal.
Lee: “I wrote that line for you.”
Maeve: “A bit broad, if you ask me.”
Bernard: “Are we logging records of guests’ experiences and their DNA?”
Charlotte to Bernard: “It’s not just a host; it’s an insurance policy. They want it secure no matter the cost.”
Maeve to Sizemore: “You wrote this game. High time you played around. Strip.”
Dolores to Teddy: “I know how this story ends.”
“That’s a fucking sea.”
Maeve on whether she “did all this:: “No. I suspect I share the sensibilities of whoever did.”