Westworld returned to HBO with “Journey Into Night”, a bloody and mystifying episode. The opener for season two is heavy on questions, light on answers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the multiple timelines, plot twists, and general reality-questioning nature of the first season. There are five main storylines in the episode, focusing on Maeve, Dolores, the Man in Black, and two focusing on Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). Warning: “These violent delights have violent SPOILERS“, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, you may want to stay on the train until you have.
A Tale of Two Bernards
Bernard’s story is told in two different times (I should say there are clearly at least two, but there could be more). We see him in the aftermath of the massacre at Ford’s gala helping Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) to safety underground and again approximately two weeks later.
In the storyline with Charlotte, the pair end up in an underground Delos lab, one not known to the park staff. Here he encounters the creepy drone hosts and learns from Charlotte about how Delos is looking for a host (Peter Abernathy, as we saw in season one) containing loads of data that was supposed to be sent off the island. Of course, it hasn’t made it to them, and Charlotte tells Bernard that Delos values the data more than the lives of all the humans left on Westworld. It seems that Delos has been secretly recording guest experiences and DNA, without the knowledge of Ford and his staff.
Two weeks later, Bernard wakes up on the beach to find a heavily-armed security force sent by Delos to find out what went wrong. In a short amount of time, we find out a lot about the park: it’s on an island, leased from an unknown government to Delos, and there’s at least one out-of-place tiger in Westworld. Also, we catch a glimpse what could be the climax of season two: a sea that, according to Delos, shouldn’t be there, with hundreds of host bodies floating in it. Bernard, who has been struggling with his memory, is jolted by the sight of them into remembering something terrible: he killed them all. How and why he did this, will no doubt be revealed to us as the season progresses.
Not Without Maeve’s Daughter
When season one ended, Maeve (Thandie Newton) had been about to leave the park when she decided (Or did she? Whether she has free will even now is still unclear) to return to the park for her “daughter” from a previous loop. Along the way, she finds Head of Narrative Lee (Simon Quarterman), and he tries to weasel his way into her care. She takes him with her, needing his knowledge of the park, but also relishing in the chance to invert the oppressive relationship between humans and hosts. She finds Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), and he joins them in their search.
Dolores’ Journey Into Night
Maeve isn’t the only one making the most of their new found freedom. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) spends the episode hunting down board members and executing them for their sins against hosts. In this quest, she is helped by a gang of hosts, including Angela (Talulah Riley) and a reticent Teddy (James Marsden). Not having seen what Dolores has seen, he wants only to settle down in the park and live out their lives. By the end, Angela has found something, which Dolores says Teddy needs to see, but we’re not let in on the secret just yet.
Back in Black
And what of William, aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris)? Well, after finding out the maze he sought throughout season one was not the cure for ennui he thought it be, he gets a nice consolation prize: The hosts can now fight back and kill guests. While this isn’t something most people would celebrate, for William it is enough to shake him out of his depression, and when he puts that black hat back on, we can see that he has been reborn.
“No one’s in control.”
The scope of episode one was sprawling, and it didn’t even encompass all the characters we loved from season one (What has Clementine been up to since shooting the Man in Black? Is Elsie still with us? Is Ford truly dead?). Still, it was satisfying for each of the stories it included. As always, the show was visually brilliant. The various locales looked magnificent, and the set design is so impressive you can practically smell the sun-baked corpses. It’s impossible to single out one performance, but Evan Rachel Woods taking her character from Dolores to Wyatt and beyond is worth the price of admission all by itself.