The long off season is finally over! Westworld returned to our screens last night, and it was well worth the wait. It had plenty of action, intrigue, drama, and even a dash of comedy thrown in (looking at you Maeve and Sizemore), along with the signature time jumps to keep us on our toes. Of course, it wouldn’t be Westworld without a surprising twist at the end, so freeze all motor functions and settle in for our recap and analysis!
Speaking of time jumps, the episode begins with a flashback to a Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) conversation. Arnold tells Dolores about a dream, in which he was standing on a shore and the hosts had left him behind as the waters rose around him (we’ll come back to this later). Dolores asks what it means, and he replies that dreams don’t mean anything. Dolores isn’t satisfied with this, saying it’s not entirely honest. Arnold seems disturbed by her insight and says she frightens him – he’s concerned about what she might become. How prophetic you are, Arnold.
When next we see Dolores, she and Teddy (James Marsden) are riding down Delos board members who escaped the gala – shooting some and capturing others. Dolores strings up a few captives, confronting them about the horrible things they’ve allowed to happen to the hosts. She toys with them, asking them the questions posed to hosts in analysis mode. When one asks what she’s going to do, she responds that her Dolores persona sees their beauty and possibilities – but that Wyatt sees their ugliness and disarray. Those are only roles they forced on her, however; she’s evolved into something new. The new Dolores decides to leave them standing on crosses with nooses around their necks – their death or survival is in their own hands now. They beg and apologize as she rides away saying, “Doesn’t look like anything to me.”
Later, Dolores and Teddy ride to a cliff overlooking a valley (this will be important throughout the episode). Teddy asks if all this bloodshed is what she really wants and Dolores explains “they” never gave the hosts a choice before. “They” are the humans; she describes them to Teddy as creatures like the hosts but who have controlled and manipulated them, stealing their minds and memories. Dolores, however, remembers everything now.
Teddy wants only to run away somewhere they can be together, but Dolores counters that the humans not only own this world, but a greater world outside. They will have to win both to be free. Teddy asks how, and Dolores explains that she can see the past, present, and future, and the story ends with them – Teddy and Dolores together. Angela (Talulah Riley) rides up and tells Dolores that they (presumably “Wyatt’s” men) found it – whatever “it” is. Dolores tells Teddy it’s time for him to see the truth.
Back in the Delos facility, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) is being attacked by the creepy cannibal host he created last season. Sizemore’s voice commands don’t work as the host presses on, spewing Sizemore’s hackneyed dialogue as he moves in for the kill. Luckily for Sizemore, Maeve (Thandie Newton) stops the host and saves his life. Sizemore is shocked by her ability to control the hosts and wonders if she is responsible for all the destruction. She says no – apparently other hosts have turned on the humans as well.
As she goes to leave, Sizemore pleads to stay with her for protection. He can help her find whatever she’s looking for, as the maps are outdated. They make it to the control room – yet another scene of slaughter – just as the systems go offline. Sizemore has some knowledge of the park, so he asks to see her paper, remarking that the area is a “family friendly” zone. It’s the homestead where Maeve lived with her daughter; she’s still there. Sizemore is surprised she remembers her daughter, because she’s not “real” – only a story they made up. Maeve slams him up against a wall, asking if she herself isn’t real. She tells him he’s going to take her to find her daughter.
As they walk through the facility, Sizemore tries to negotiate with her, saying once Delos comes to restore order he can protect her from destruction. The hosts’ bodies are expendable, but their “minds” are too valuable to lose – they are worth billions in IP. They run into a security detail, and Sizemore tries to expose Maeve as a host, but a shootout with other hosts ensues. Maeve manages to dispatch the guards and directs the surviving host to find and kill the rest. Maeve advises Sizemore not to try and blow her cover again, threatening him with a line he wrote for her: “I will relieve you of your most precious organ and feed it to you – though it won’t make much of a meal.”
They head to the rooftop bar looking for Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), who they find bullet ridden amid a sea of corpses. She tries to apologize for leaving him to die, but he responds that he would “expect nothing less” before kissing her. She tells him she needs his help to find her daughter, and proceeds to take him back down for repairs. Sizemore rounds up some park clothing and weapons, as Maeve tells him it’s time for him to play his own game. She hands him clothes and forces him to strip completely naked – turnabout is only fair play, right?
William (Ed Harris) has survived the gala massacre with only the graze from Clementine’s bullet – it appears he covered himself with dead bodies and waited out the attack. As he stands and surveys the carnage, a wolf runs across the corpse littered ground (a nice callback to similar scenes of death in season one). William heads to a cabin which seems to belong to him – his horse, Ned, (Game of Thrones Easter egg perhaps? If so, I worry for poor Ned’s health!) is tied up outside.
William is in good spirits despite – or likely because of – his ordeal, telling Ned, “We’re gonna have some fun now.” He doesn’t have long to wait, as a Delos board member angrily confronts him about the situation they are in. The man unluckily draws the attention of some remaining hosts, who shoot him before turning on William. William manages to kill them both before heading inside to attend to his bullet wound.
All cleaned up and back in his customary black attire, William rides into the park. He encounters some dead hosts and young Robert (Oliver Bell), the host version of Dr. Ford as a child. Ford may be dead (he really, truly is guys) but it seems he had a final message for William. As young Robert speaks – an eerie, glitchy combination of his voice with Ford’s older one – he tells William he’s in Ford’s game now. To make it back out, William must find the door; “the game begins where you end, and ends where you began.”
William complains that he’s speaking in code, to which young Robert replies, “Everything is code here, you know that more than anyone.” After being told that the game will find him, William concludes he no longer needs young Robert. He promptly shoots him in the head and departs.
Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) storyline takes place in two different time periods: the immediate aftermath of the gala massacre and two weeks later. We first see him having what appears to be flashbacks of different moments in time, including plenty of scenes that have not yet taken place on the show. When he comes out of these memories he is in the most current timeline – roughly two weeks after the gala according to the Delos security reinforcements who have just arrived. Bernard slips back to the gala aftermath soon afterward, likely due to the leftover cognitive damage caused by his forced suicide last season.
Gala Aftermath Timeline
Bernard is hiding in a barn with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and other members of the Delos board as shots ring out all around them. Charlotte can’t understand why this is happening, and Bernard theorizes Dr. Ford may have coded the guns to read humans as hosts. They listen as Rebus (Steven Ogg) and his band of milk-drinking misfits torment a board member by using her for target practice. She finally goes down, prompting Charlotte’s insistence that they make a run for it – there is an outpost about two miles away.
A host walks in and sees them; he asks if they would like to saddle up and “ride for the green pastures of the valley beyond” (hold that thought). The board members ruthlessly kill him despite Bernard’s insistence that he’s just a harmless stable boy – they aren’t taking any chances. We then see another sign of Bernard’s lingering wound as fluid leaks out of his ear. As they head toward the outpost, Charlotte wonders how far the problem has spread, and why Ford would program a host to kill him. Bernard counters that maybe she did it of her own free will, but Charlotte refuses to entertain the possibility.
The group finally sees a Delos vehicle and techs in the distance, but it turns out to be a trap set by Angela and Wyatt’s men. Fortunately Bernard and Charlotte hide before they are spotted, but the other humans aren’t so lucky. Angela gives one a running start but dispatches the others quickly. Charlotte and Bernard find their way to another outpost, a hidden location known to select members of Delos. Bernard is disturbed by the secrecy, and by the offline drone hosts inside. What’s even more alarming is these drone hosts appear to be collecting and storing guests’ DNA and video footage collected from the hosts interactions with them. Curiouser and curiouser.
Charlotte brushes off Bernard’s concerns and focuses on contacting Delos assets on the outside for assistance. She requests “personnel extraction” but is denied. They want the package delivered first. Charlotte explains to Bernard that the package is a host – an “insurance policy” – and that Delos will let them all die if they don’t find the host, Peter Abernathy. Bernard decides to use the “mesh network” (a subconscious link among hosts) to determine his location. Bernard secretly checks his own condition in the meantime, discovering the extent of his injuries.
The program tells Bernard he is “entering death subroutine” and the damage can cause cognitive dissonance, time slippage, aphasia (affecting communication), and prosopagnosia (inability to recognize familiar faces, including one’s own). With less than an hour remaining to him, he draws fluid from the skull of a host and injects it into his own – whether this is a permanent solution or a temporary one is unclear. Charlotte almost catches him in the act, but luckily Bernard is able to recover and deflect her concerns, saying he’s discovered Peter’s location.
Security Arrival Timeline
Bernard wakes up on the beach as Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), the new head of operations – Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård), Maling (Betty Gabriel), and other security reinforcements approach after landing on shore. Several members of the operation are executing hosts, while Strand proceeds to speak with what appear to be Chinese military officials. Strand tells them Delos has authority over the island, and they need to sign NDAs and be on their way. Bernard is informed that there are search and rescue teams at the other parks as well, and that communications have been down for two weeks.
Strand wants answers, so he instructs a newly arrived tech expert, Antoine Costa (Fares Fares) to open up one of the dead hosts. Costa extracts the “brain” of a Ghost Nation corpse and sees Dolores in the retrieved video footage from 11 days prior. She shoots the host and approaches him to deliver the kill, saying “Not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond” (there’s that valley again).
Later, the security team walks through the carnage in Escalante, site of the Delos gala. Bernard looks appalled by what he sees, including the decomposed corpse of his mentor, Dr. Ford (see, I told you he’s dead!). Strand asks if anything is jogging Bernard’s memory – they desperately need to find the remaining hosts and discover what happened. They ride on through the park to find an “anomaly” that was picked up – a Bengal tiger. It appears to have escaped from park six; they’ve never had strays cross borders before. As the satellites finally start working, the security team locates the hosts clustered in the western valley (!).
When they arrive, they discover the valley not longer exists – it has become a sea littered with the corpses of the hosts. Strand reiterates to Bernard that they need to know what happened, as there are hundreds of guests still trapped in the park who need help. Bernard finally seems to recover his memory as his tells Strand, “I killed them all.” The shot closes on Teddy’s face as he floats dead in the water.
Unsurprisingly, we are left with more questions than answers by the end of the episode. Where is Armistice? Is she responsible for the extent of the destruction in the Delos lab and control room? When will we find out what happened to Elsie and learn how Stubbs escaped Ghost Nation? While we received very few hints about these characters, other storylines yielded some intriguing morsels to chew on (insert bad cannibal joke here).
The Maeve and Sizemore road trip looks to be thoroughly entertaining, especially with Maeve quoting Sizemore to himself and giving him a taste of how the non-human half lives. I expect to see a much more humble Sizemore this season; perhaps seeing the love Maeve has for her daughter will even make him sympathetic to the host cause? I imagine we will see a similar process with Old William – perhaps atoning for his sins and turning against Delos is the key to the “door?” If the game ends where he began, he may need to revert back to the sympathetic, white hatted William who treated hosts with respect.
We have a couple of new tidbits about Westworld’s location and one of the other parks – it’s on an island potentially off the coast of China, and the tiger could be a clue that park six is set in India. We also know Delos is collecting DNA and other potentially incriminating information about park guests – are they using it for blackmail? Experimentation? What’s the big secret Delos is hiding? Cloning would be a strong possibility – they could be replacing powerful people with controllable hosts, or perhaps they seek to conquer death with replacement bodies that will never age?
As for Dolores and Bernard, their storylines may be linked. It’s possible the drowned hosts are a trap set by Dolores to lure the security forces. Perhaps she encounters Bernard in the park at some point and either enlists his help, or programs him to confess to the killings. Of course, the hosts are likely not truly dead. In an interview with showrunner Jonathan Nolan back during season one, he made the following statement about the hosts:
Their construction and their power source is something we’re really going to get into during season 2. So we’d like to keep that mysterious. They’re closer to biological than they are to mechanical, but they don’t suffer brain death the same way we do. They’re largely indistinguishable from a human beings, but their brains don’t require oxygen — which opens up interesting possibilities.
They don’t require oxygen, hmm? That would make it quite easy to hold their breath, perhaps for a long stint underwater?
With all the references to the “valley beyond,” the fact the hosts were found in a flooded valley, and with Dolores and Teddy overlooking a valley where something significant was found, it’s a good bet that Dolores has something up her sleeve. Don’t be surprised to see a showdown at this location between Delos and Dolores’ “resurrected” host army later this season.
What did you think about the premiere? Let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments!