Westworld’s Season 2 premiere started with a bang on Sunday. Here’s what happened, what you possibly missed, and speculation for what could be coming in the weeks ahead. Check out our Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 recap below.
“Is… This… Real?”
Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking questions of philosophical existence appears right off the cuff in Westworld’s season two premiere. With a dizzying flash of words striking the audience, the voice of Bernard queries to an unknown source, “Is this real?” Perhaps alluding to his character’s future in the show, or perhaps questioning the nature of the reality surrounding him.
Westworld’s season two premiere doesn’t meander about with a slow build-up of current events. We join Bernard on the shores of a beach located within the Westworld theme park some two weeks after the end of season one of Westworld. Dazed and confused, Bernard is rudely greeted by a team of mercenaries with guns trained upon him. But just before the mercenaries execute Bernard, the QA Head Ashley Stubbs recognizes the brilliant programmer and saves his life. Bernard, Stubbs, and the team of mercenaries then travel back to the makeshift FOB where a massive strike force has gathered to wipe out the rogue hosts.
We then run smack-dab into a new arrival to the Westworld cast – Karl Strand, the Head of Operations for Delos. His power becomes asserted immediately as he relieves operational oversite from an unknown national general, assuming his command. Confident and overbearingly arrogant, Strand turns his attention to Bernard. Strand seeks answers to what occurred during the two-week gap between the host uprising and the present day. While we see a host data feed show Dolores being potentially self-aware, a flashback takes us back two weeks prior.
Back to the Chaos
Bernard then recalls the immediate aftermath of the host uprising after Ford’s death. We transition to Bernard huddling in a barn with Charlotte Hale, the Executive Director of the Delos Board. They’re hiding from violent hosts using the guests for target practice – immediately killing a woman within five minutes of the scene. The transitional chaos showcases just how in the wrong both sides appear. Both hosts and humans commit casual atrocities without thought to the consequences for the other side. It makes one consider the rationale for the building conflict. Both humans and hosts reach for fairly similar goals in Westworld – surviving a world without consequence.
One of the most startling reveals of the episode came when Bernard and Charlotte reach the offsite Delos bunker. While Bernard fights data corruption and losing consciousness, he discovers that Charlotte’s cabal collects DNA records of guest experiences. While no concrete answers appear concerning what this means, fans jumped on the speculation train for what possibilities the subplot could potentially go. A strongly supported fan theory suggests the DNA gathering may lead to Delos replacing influential guests with host copies. Controlled by Delos puppeteers, the host copies would allow Delos an obscene amount of influence over the world. There’s a lot of potential with that side plot – be on the lookout for its return during the weeks ahead.
Bernard jumps back and forth through multiple time jumps, but one final revelation answered what happened during the missing two weeks between Ford’s execution and the Park’s liberation.
Bernard killed all of the hosts. Their bodies littered an unmapped sea, floating, dead, and lifeless. Questions still remain whether this was all the currently operational hosts, or simply Dolores’ growing army. The weeks ahead will surely tell.
The Man in Black
In between Bernard’s sections, we see that the older William survived the massacre by hiding beneath the corpse of a mangled guest. Dusting himself off, William sets off to a secluded cabin within the park. His faithful black stallion Ned awaits him there.
Before he can so much as say, “We’re going to have some fun, Ned…” William becomes accosted by a distraught guest. While the man claims lawsuits will bankrupt Delos beyond repair, two hosts appear and shoot him in the head. William quickly dives behind a well, and ferociously offs his aggressors. In a truly bada** scene, he cleans, cauterizes, and binds a bullet wound before continuing on into the park.
William, after an undisclosed amount of time traveling, happens upon a camp full of corpses. Scavenging food and drink, he encounters the young host model of Ford appearing out of the blue. Through their exchange, the voice of the older inventor comes through the young host claiming that the rules have changed. Ford’s host claims the new game was created just for William. The stakes are real now – consequences last in Westworld.
William ends the exchange with Ford’s host turning his back to him. As the young boy walks away, William whispers, “I guess I don’t need you anymore.” And shoots the host where he stands.
The Madame And The Scoundrel
Maeve returned gloriously in Westworld’s season premiere. Just as the weasely Head of Narrative – Lee Sizemore – nearly became the meal of an unhinged cannibal host, Maeve swooped in to terminate his functions. Just as Lee turned to Maeve to complain about the inmates running the asylum, he realized who he was talking to. The two appear bound together for the moment, through an uneasy truce borne of a mutual need for what the other party offers.
The two travel across the Park HQ, now littered with the dead bodies of both management, guests, and hosts. Lee, desperate to reach the Control room, discovers even the heart of the facility fell to the awakened hosts. No one controls the park now – everyone inhabiting the park’s landscape now has a target on their back.
Maeve seems unfazed by this. She’s still looking for her former daughter and drags Lee with her to guide her across the park. Before leaving on their journey, the pair are joined by the bandit Hector – the lord of Mayhem in Westworld. Power trips and chemistry are on the two hosts’ side, flipping the old status quo on its head. Lee plays lackey to Maeve and Hector as the trio set out in search of Maeve’s daughter.
Into The Sunset
One of the most jarring transformations came with the evolution of Dolores’ character and her storyline. No longer the sweet damsel in distress, Dolores struggles with three different personalities striving to dominate her actions. The rancher’s daughter strives to see the beauty among the ugliness of the surrounding world. But her alternate ego, Wyatt, directly conflicts and overrides her primary personality as a host, cutting a swathe of destruction and blood across the world. Her emerging self-awareness struggles to find an identity with these two personalities so heavily tied into her consciousness. As of the premiere, it remains unclear whether or not Dolores became fully self-aware or simply follows the narrative direction of Ford’s storyline.
Teddy remains her faithful companion – albeit reluctantly. He struggles with his adoration of Dolores, the rancher’s daughter – and his aversion to Wyatt, the bloodthirsty villain. From their brief interactions, Teddy clearly remains hopeful he can guide Dolores away from Wyatt’s dominant personality. But their last scene together shows Dolores demanding Teddy come with her to witness something to change Teddy’s outlook.
Conclusion And The Weeks Ahead
Westworld’s season premiere was certainly fast-paced. Not a moment went by without an action-packed sequence, brutal violence, or a puzzling mystery. What the premiere lacked was the well-done introspection dominant in Westworld’s first season. While there are certainly many plotlines the show now juggles, one would hope that season 2 retains the amazing philosophical edge delivered so well during the first season.
But what’s coming in the weeks ahead for Westworld’s second season. Lookout for Shogun World – long-teased but never realized during the premiere. Clarifying what happend during the two weeks Bernard awakened on the distant beach will certainly be answered as well. And from season 2’s cast list, we know that the younger William will return to show how he transformed from the white knight into the merciless Man in Black he became during the present day.
Episode Two runs April 29th, 2018 at 6 P.M. PDT. Expect more answers, and more questions, after it airs.