Alright! The wait is finally over! After 16 months of theorizing and guessing and discussion, we finally have the super-sized season premiere of HBO’s ‘Westworld’ titled ‘Journey Into Night.’ In my humble opinion, the show did not disappoint. Though some may call this premiere a bit of a slow-burn start, I loved how they set about to re-familiarize the audience with the world and its original rules while also establishing how things work now and also setting up some mysteries and a new time jump, with the premiere seemingly taking place both in the days immediately following the epic season finale and then 3 weeks later, when Delos finally comes to take back the park.
Getting right into it, the episode seemed to revolve around Bernard, as do the time-jumps, as they are apparently a symptom of his mind suffering some kind of Host meltdown following the traumatic events of Delores’s revolution and everything he learned that night. So it is not clear exactly whether we are just remembering things in the jumbled order that Bernard is seeing it all or whether he is experiencing it all out of order, which would be trippy because his mind would, in a way, be kind of jumping back and forth in time. Anyways, we first see who we think is Arnold (though it could be Bernard and Delores is messing with his head) having a session with Delores similar to what we saw in Season 1, only now Delores seems much more in control and Bernard is nervous around her. He talks about a dream of an ocean separating him from everyone else (including Dolores), and sure enough after a time jump we find him washed up on a beach being awoken by a rescue corps that was finally sent to the park by Delos (being led by a returned Stubbs, though we do not yet know his full story yet).
The guys make Bernard very uneasy, especially since they don’t yet realize he is a Host and are actively executing every robot they find very callously then pulling out their brains (by hollowing out their skulls like pumpkins) to see what memories they can find to piece together what happened in the park. One brain on a body they found already dead shows Delores executing him, revealing she does not have the same love for every Host and revealing to the Delos folks that she is not the Rancher’s daughter anymore.
We then flashback to the events following Delores’s uprising, we see Charlotte and Bernard and a small group of Delos board members leave the site trying to avoid the Hosts who are actively hunting all humans now. The board members get caught in a trap and are executed pretty quickly, but Charlotte and Bernard make it to a hidden Delos bunker that Bernard did not know about. Charlotte tries to send out a distress signal but is told a rescue team will wait until they receive “the package,” aka Peter Abernathy who she thought she sent out of the park last season.
Meanwhile, Bernard is unnerved by the “drone Hosts” (who we know are going to turn evil and bat-shit crazy at some point this season), and while running a search for Abernathy in the park, does a diagnostic on himself revealing his mind has suffered a critical failure and will shut-down (or something) in 72 hours. This turns out to be a big plot-point because we later learn the opening scene of him on the beach occurs TWO WEEKS LATER, meaning he clearly found a way to survive. First on the list of attempts to save himself, while Charlotte is busy, Bernard grabs a needle and drains the brain fluid out of a nearby incapacitated Host and injects it into his own head, which seems to cure him for the moment, but since we saw his ear leaking brain fluid earlier, it clearly is not the permanent fix he needs. And of course, his search does find Abernathy but before we learn where the man is, the show cuts away.
As for Maeve, she returns to the show in spectacular fashion saving writer Lee from a cannibalistic Host who she reveals she still has the ability to control, a shock to Lee as no Host is answering commands anymore. It seems all of Maeve’s upgrades have made her the new God of Westworld as she is now the ONLY ONE who can still give commands to the Hosts. She recruits Lee to help her find her daughter, keeping her gun on him after he tries to give her up to some Delos troops. She shoots them down and then they head upstairs to find Hector, who thankfully survived the revolution and is having a drink on the rooftop. He promises to help Maeve save her daughter, then they go down to fix Hector’s wounds from the fight and humiliate Lee a bit by making him strip and change in front of them.
William, aka the Man In Black, rises from under a pile of bodies in the town where the Host massacre occurred, hinting that he took cover there and played dead so the Hosts would pass him by. He returns to one of his cabins in the park to find clothing and gear and is attacked by more Hosts. He is able to take them down, though we can tell this is no longer just fun and games for him as he is fighting for his life. He cleans himself up and dons his iconic Black Hat, and we finally see it looks like he is ready and that he is somewhat excited at the prospect of what the park is now as he finally has real stakes.
While out exploring, he comes across the young child Host version of Robert Ford who talks in creepy double-voice as he has Anthony Hopkin’s (adult Ford’s) voice overlaid on top of his own, just to make it clear who programmed him. He informs William that he made it to the center of the Maze, but the new game is to get out of the park alive, to find “the Door.” Whether Robert was being literal or metaphorical with this is unclear. What is clear, is that he tells William the new game was made just for him, right before William decides they no longer need any version of Ford, and destroys the robot child.
Lastly, we catch up with Delores and Teddy whose killing spree is delightfully set up by the self-playing piano going into the classic ‘The Entertainer’ song, which swells to a full orchestral piece when we see Delores on horseback raising her rifle to shoot down fleeing humans. Teddy is clearly uncomfortable with all of her killings and what exactly they are doing, but Delores seems more self-assured, and aware, rejecting the voice of the rancher’s daughter in her head as well as the mad ravings of Wyatt to finally figure out who she really is and not what character she was programmed to be. The point is perfectly illustrated by her wardrobe, as last season her opposing personalities wore either the blue dress (the Rancher’s daughter) or the white shirt and tan pants (Wyatt). This season, showing she is an evolved versions of her true self, which has bits of both, she wears the blue dress to cover her legs and the white shirt up top, a blending of the two costumes from before. She assures Teddy she has a plan, and they kiss, but are interrupted by news of the Hosts having “found” something which she wants to show Teddy, saying how important it is. And she is probably right, as she now claims to remember everything and even has a plan for taking the world over from the huans. Clearly Teddy should listen to her and maybe reject his own programming which makes him so soft-hearted.
The episode ends in the TWO WEEKS LATER time period, as Bernard and the Delos folk head to the interior of the park with the whole thing feeling very ‘Jurassic Park,’ with a brief stop to look at a dead bengal tiger ‘bot which should not have left its location in “Park 6” (Shogun World?) hinting that things are breaking down all over the system. They see on the scanners all of the Hosts clumped together ahead and move on to find and stop them, but instead only find a massive lake/ocean thing in the middle of the park, which was NOT there a few weeks ago. And when they look closely, they find all of the Hosts, seemingly dead, floating in the ocean. When Stubbs and company ask Bernard what happened, he can only stumble about and mutter “I killed them all,” leaving a massive cliffhanger for the end of the episode. Plus, one of the shots of a dead body in the water looks a lot like Teddy, which means he may not have made it out alive so there may be trouble ahead between him and Delores…
WORLD OF THEORIES:
- The Delos bunker Charlotte takes Bernard to seems to be collecting data on the experiences of the guests and their… DNA. I almost don’t want to know what DNA they’re talking about here, since many of the guest actively sleep with Hosts…
- Could Maeve be part of Ford’s plan, especially if she can still command the Hosts, and still seems to be following a story (i.e. saving her “daughter”). It would be an interesting twist if she was the fail-safe, the only thing left in the park that could stop the mad-hosts.
- If Bernard now has an expiration date of 3 days, and the flash forward is 2 weeks later, is there any chance this is NOT Bernard? Maybe another Arnold robot clone, or even better, ACTUAL ARNOLD?
- It seems like Maeve and Delores are on a collision course this season, I cannot wait to see them cross paths and confront one-another over leadership roles, though Maeve really only seems interested in saving her daughter. Real question is, can Maeve control Delores the way she can the other Hosts?
- Could Ford’s last trick have been to to devise a “game” capable of killing William, who had been a thorn in his side for years?
Again, I really enjoyed the premiere, and liked how it set the stage for the rest of the season, and gave us A LOT to think about. I am really looking forward to see where they go with the rest of the season. Feel free to share any thoughts or theories you may have so far in the comments below, and make sure to come back next week for a recap of Episode 2!