Westworld S2 Ep 1: Journey Into Night

Welcome to the first of our weekly Westworld S2 Ep recaps! I’ll be taking a look at each week’s episode (usually closer to broadcast) as they come out, and then turning the conversation over to all of us as a collective project in the comments. This season looks to be quite the ride, and I’m excited to help us all puzzle through it. SPOILERS AHOY!

WESTWORLD EP 2.1: Journey Into Night

Let’s recap the highlights first, focusing on individual character threads, as the temporalities continue to be presented in tricky ways:

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is definitely not an entirely reliable narrator in this ep, with damage to his memory and some pretty gaping holes between the last we saw of him pre-massacre, and a point weeks later, when teams from Delos have reached the island and are trying to contain the situation. We see Bernard learning more from Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) about Delos’ secret agenda, smuggling the host IP off the island, and glimpses of his interaction with Dolores, at an unknown time/context. It appears from his flashbacks that Hale survived for some initial period after the massacre, but it is unclear if she is still alive by the time teams arrived. At the end of the ep, Bernard declares himself responsible for the scores of drowned hosts the teams find, saying simply, “I killed them. All of them.”

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is taking on a new role after shooting Ford (Anthony Hopkins)in the head at the party: herself. It appears Teddy (James Marsden) has been accompanying her on a spree through the park as she enacts vengeance on the guests and also kills some of the hosts too. She seems to have a long game, but it’s unclear by the end of the ep what, precisely, it is.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, Maeve (Thandie Newton) has returned to the park to seek her daughter, and enlists the hapless head of Narrative, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) to help her navigate the park. She also reunites with Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), who helped her escape in the first place, and they head to a far-away area of the park to look for Maeve’s daughter.

Security head Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) seems surprisingly unharmed, given that the last time we saw him, he was beset by violent hosts to unknown outcome.

The Man In Black/William (Ed Harris), appears to be alive and well at the end of massacre, setting off to explore his ideal version of the park, where death and chaos rule at every turn. He receives a message from Ford via the host/child version of Ford, announcing that the new narrative is a game just for him: he found his way to the center of the maze, but can he find his way back out again?

Looking ahead to the rest of the season: Analysis

We’ve learned some new things about the Park(s) this episode, starting with the information that this seemingly landlocked North American location is in fact on an island. An island located possibly off the coast of China. The terraforming/technological implications of it are huge, to say the least. Hale’s travels with Bernard revealed that there are hidden, Delos-controlled, areas of the park that Ford may or may not have known about.

Thematically, this season represents a shift from the previous, as signaled by the opening titles. Check them out in detail, if you haven’t already.

I think the buffalo are a key clue to where things are going, allegorically. Hunted nearly to extinction, driven over cliffs…

I’d wager at this point, that the first half of this season’s narrative will be primarily occupied with accounting for Bernard’s lost time, of which we only got glimpses in the season premiere: filling in the time from shortly before the massacre through the “now” presented of the ops team coming to the rescue. It looks like the temporalities are going to be just as tricky this season as they were in the last, in terms of figuring out what happened when, and what the causalities are. The key to much of that seems to be Bernard.

This episode was, as per freaking usual, pretty dense with information and references, rewarding a recent rewatch of season one. Watching Dolores literally “flip the script” on the call and response with which the programmers engaged the hosts before, upon her captive guests, gave everything an extra-delightfully-creepy patina, especially as she informed them what their cornerstones and motivations were. The ritualized language gets quoted in new contexts to further blur the roles of host and guest, and perhaps the single biggest illicit thrill of the ep is Sizemore fleeing the cliché dialogue he wrote for his Ford-rejected serial killer cannibal, who is now spewing these hackneyed lines directly at him while cornering him with murderous intent.

Where do you think this is all going? What happens next? What made no frakking sense to you? Let’s dig in, below!SaveSaveSave

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