Need to catch up? Check out the Westworld Season 1 finale recap.
Karma’s not a bitch. Karma’s a newly self-aware android with an itchy trigger finger.
Welcome to Westworld Season 2, where all of the robotic hosts designed to facilitate human fantasies are awake, angry and armed — a lethal combination for any human who happens to scurry across their path.
If you, like Original Flavor Dolores, choose to see the beauty in the world and therefore hope that the sci-fi drama’s sophomore outing will take a straighter narrative path than it did in Season 1… well, aren’t you precious. Right from the outset, Season 2 plays fast and loose with where we are in timeline, setting up yet another layer of the puzzle to solve — and that’s before the rotting tiger shows up.
Read on for the highlights of the premiere, “Journey Into Night.”
BEWITCHED, BEWILDERED AND BERNARD | We open on Bernard, who apologizes to Dolores for having drifted off while they’re chatting in a behind-the-scenes room at the park’s HQ. “We were just talkin’,” she sunnily informs him. As they go back and forth about the nature of dreams vs. reality, he mentions that she scares him sometimes. She’s perplexed. “I’m frightened of what you might become, the path you might take,” he says, clarifying that she’s growing and learning at light-speed pace. Then he has a bunch of flashes from last season and this season, including shots of Dolores and Peter Abernathy wearing modern clothes and a visual of the town-square massacre. “Is this now?” Bernard asks…
… and wakes up on a beach, water lapping over his face and body. There’s a discarded champagne glass on the sand near him, and that’s about all we have time to process before a park security team approaches. One of the women on the team is rather brusque with the very-out-of-it Bernard, but then Stubbs (he lives!) approaches and reminds her that the man she’s yelling at is “the boss.”
Bernard’s bewilderment continues as the team leads him back to where the security section has set up camp on the shore. There are boats and crates all over, as well as a computer-generated, 3-D map of the park; in one corner of the camp, seemingly innocent hosts are lined up and shot in the head by security personnel. There’s also Delos’ head of operations Karl Strand; not long after we meet him, he mentions that communications have been down in Westworld for two weeks, and that search and rescue groups are scouring all of the other parks.
In an effort to figure out what robots were thinking as the coup got underway, Karl has a tech named Antoine Costa open up a host’s head. Everyone is surprised to see the image of the maze on the underside of the scalp; I’m also kind of into our first (as far as I can remember?) glimpse at the host brain: It’s a sphere in some clear goo, and when Costa removes it from the robot’s skull, he’s able to plug it into a reader and see the host’s last few moments. “I told you friend,” says Dolores, who’s in gunslingin’ mode, “not all of us deserve to make it to the Valley Beyond.” Karl, it’s becoming clear, is skeptical of Bernard. “It must’ve been a hell of a party,” he says.
CLOSE CALL | That causes Bernard to flash back to the night of Ford’s death, when he, Charlotte and some other Delos bigwigs cowered in a barn to escape the carnage. In the flashback, eventually he and Charlotte make it to a secret outpost that Bernard doesn’t know about, and she’s stingy with the details when he starts asking about what she was up to — but he gets sidetracked by being freaked out by some faceless, all-white drone hosts who can read DNA but who know “you’re not a threat,” she tells him. But Bernard knows that his DNA isn’t factory-issued, so to speak, so he remains a bit jumpy. Also? He’s doing rather poorly, leaking what appears to be that synthetic brain juice and having massive tremors in one of his hands.
And maybe Charlotte would notice all of this if she weren’t preoccupied with communicating with someone off-site, who alerts her that no extraction teams will be sent until the “package” arrives. By “package,” they mean the Peter Abernathy loaded up with all of the code that Charlotte had Lee help her smuggle out of the park; under her breath, she grouses that she sent it. Meanwhile, Bernard notices the work some drones are doing on a male host, then asks, “Are we logging records of the guests’ experiences in their DNA?” She’s like, “FOCUS. ABERNATHY. WHERE IS HE?”
Bernard mentions something about being able to tap into the hosts’ mesh net to find him. So while Charlotte changes from her ruined evening gown into some old-timey garb, Bernard surreptitiously runs a diagnostic on himself and learns he’s got about 45 minutes before he’s the equivalent of a bricked iPhone. So he injects a needle into the host’s head, extracts some fluid, and shoots it into his own neck — all without Charlotte noticing. He seems to recover fully as she walks back into the room, just as the mesh net coughs up Abernathy’s location.
NO MORE MS. NICE DOLORES | When we meet up with Dolores and Teddy, they’re riding through a field, chasing down Delos partygoers like they’re hunting quail. When the riders get close enough, they shoot the humans. Later, after Dolores gives a speech to some about-to-be-hanged Delos folk (“That’s why you created us, this place, to be prisoners to your own desires. But now you’re prisoners to mine.”), then leaves them their eventual death, a troubled Teddy wonders if all the bloodshed is really the right path to take. “They’ve controlled us all our lives, and they took our minds and our memories,” Dolores says, justifying her actions to him. “But now, I remember everything… One thing is constant: You, Teddy.” And when he posits that they could claim a small corner of the world for themselves, leaving everyone else to their own devices, she disagrees. There’s a greater world out there, she explains, “one that belongs to them. And it won’t be enough to win this world. We’ll have to take that one from them, as well.”
BACK IN BLACK | The Man in Black, aka Old William, is really excited now that he might actually die in the park. “The stakes are real in this place now. Real consequences,” he tells the Young Ford host, who finds him near a camp site strewn with corpses. “But now, you’re in my game,” the host tells him, in a voice that’s a creepy mix of Old Ford and Young Ford. “In this game, you have to make it back out. In this game, you must find the door. Congratulations, William. This game is made for you.” Then the boy tells him that the game will find him. “Well, then, I guess I don’t need you anymore, Robert,” The Man in Black replies, shooting the child host in the face.
MAEVE RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME | Back at park HQ, in a room full of many dead bodies, Lee is about to get eaten by a cannibal host when Maeve steps in to save his sniveling behind. He’s shocked, asking whether she was behind all the mayhem. “No,” she says, “but I suspect I share the sensibilities of whoever did.” Realizing that his life may be getting shorter by the moment, Lee offers to help Maeve find her daughter on company property; he notes that Sector 15, the spot where her kid allegedly is, is in the rural area where she lived in a previous timeline. She’s nearly in tears, but he scoffs: After all, the girl “is just a story. Something we programmed. She’s not real,” he points out. Maeve slams him up against the wall. “F—k your directions,” she says. “You’re going to take me to my daughter.”
Just then, human guards bust in, and Lee wastes no time signaling to them that he’s a real boy and Maeve is one dangerous toaster. Indeed, she puts down a few of the park staff members, but then saves Lee when another host gets dangerously close to offing him. However, “If you try something like that again, I will relieve you of your most precious organ and feed it to you, though it won’t make much of a meal,” she says. “I wrote that line for you,” he responds, dazed. “It’s a bit broad, if you ask me,” she replies. (Side note: I could watch Thandie Newton read the phone book. Of everyone in this show, Maeve, it’s you I’ve missed the most.)
She and Lee eventually find Hector, dressed in a tech’s cleansuit, drinking by the pool. By his big hello kiss to her, it’s clear he’s not mad that she left him when he was under fire in the finale. He quickly agrees to help her find her daughter. And later, when they’re all suiting up to go back into the park, Maeve gives Lee one more eff-you: In a bit of pantless revenge, she makes him strip, fully, just because she said so.
BEACH DAY! | In the present — or, at least, back in the timeline where Bernard woke up on the beach — Karl, Stubbs and the rest of the team take Bernard through the site of the uprising’s start. Bodies, including Ford’s, are badly decomposed and left lying exactly where they fell. Later, as the group drives, they pause to scratch their heads at a decommissioned Bengal tiger host that somehow crossed over from Park 6. The team gets intel that there’s a huge number of hosts amassed in the Western Valley, but when the humans get there, it’s not a valley but a vast ocean that no one knew existed within the park. And the hosts are there… but they’re all out of service, floating in the water.
Karl demands to know what happened. “I killed them,” Bernard says softly. “All of them.”
Your turn. Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts on the episode.
Ready for the next episode? Read the Westworld Season 2, Episode 2 recap here!