Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Westworld episode "Journey Into Night" written by Lisa Joy and Roberto Patino, directed by Richard J. Lewis.
We return to the narrative with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) having another of their Diagnostics room heart-to-hearts. This time Bernard is relating his dream about being left behind. They discuss the nature of dreams and we’re left to chew on the concept that dreams aren’t real, just noise, and what’s real is what is irreplaceable. Hmmm….
Bernard then wakes on a beach, seemingly post Host massacre. The Delos Company has sent in a military equivalent search and rescue team lead by their Head of Operations, Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård), and – surprise! – the very much alive Head of Security, Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). It’s been two weeks since communications went down in the parks and the humans still have no real clue about what’s going on (including that Bernard is in fact a Host).
Meanwhile inside the park, Dolores is cutting down Delos executives and patrons in a swath of her violent delights. Teddy (James Marsden) is her Huckleberry in this bloody pursuit, but he’s not that happy about it and tells her so. She assuages his concern by essentially telling him they are going to make it to the end of their story. Romantic, sorta?
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) also made it out of the massacre alive and he’s more than a bit chuffed that his endless maze of a game now has actual life or death stakes.
Inside Delos, Maeve (Thandie Newton) has stayed to find her daughter, who she knows exists in some other park. So, she finds the Head of Narrative, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quartermain), who wrote her story with her daughter in Sector 15, and offers to keep him alive if there is a reunion. She users her lover Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) to keep the weasely Lee in line.
In the last minutes of the episode, Bernard and the Delos S&R team discover a huge sea that was never on their park map, and its full of deactivated, floating Hosts. Bernard looks deeply disturbed about the situation and only adds more to the confusion by offering, “I…he killed them. All of them.”
Initially seemingly on the nose about portraying the aftermath of the Season 1 finale, we quickly come to understand Nolan and Joy are not suddenly going to start adhering to standard narrative storytelling for their sophomore season. That's more than apparent by Bernard’s second “glitch,” where we come to decipher that we are (likely) witnessing at least two different time periods that feature Bernard post Host uprising.
One timeline seems to be directly after Dolores and company unload on the Delos executives and Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) because Bernard is hiding with surviving execs, including the shrewd executive director of the board, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson).
The other timeline is about 14 days after the uprising when Bernard wakes up on the beach. His glasses are broken and he seems to not have any recall about what has happened to him, or inside the park. He looks weathered and confused, and not nearly as confident as the Bernard traveling to safety with Charlotte.
It’s a clever way to set up a new mystery that leaves the maze behind, and as the creators have teased, moves towards the door as a thematic thruline for the season. Bernard, for now, is obviously our focus as his Host secret, and dire code malfunctions, have some part in creating his non-linear, time-hopping narrative. Filling in those missing pieces will likely reveal Bernard’s greater purpose in Ford’s overall game that's been posthumously left behind for the humans (like the Man in Black) and the Hosts to play out.
While inherently that approach screams of being overly confounding and complex just to sustain the mystery of Ford’s machinations, Bernard and Dolores’ awakenings are ultimately so potentially compelling that I can forgive the herculean architecture to get to the endgame.
There’s a lot of table setting for the characters in this episode that doesn’t necessarily progress any of them profoundly enough to start the season off with a bang.
Dolores is still serenely and poetically murdering humans. Maeve spends a lot of time meandering inside of Delos operations, threatening Lee but not really getting anywhere of note. Even the Man in Black is back to his normal ways, just with a new glint in his eyes. Yes, Westworld is a patience game but there could have been more propulsive movement in our core character’s goals right off the bat, instead of essentially a refresher of where we left off.
I’m still not a fan of Sizemore and to see that he’s now getting to play albatross to Maeve doesn’t endear me to him any more. If the name of this game is for the awful, narcissist to get his comeuppance, I was satisfied with Maeve emasculating him by making him get naked and then reacting gleefully underwhelmed. That's an A+ moment there. I say leave him tied up to the dead bear (“undo it, undo it”) in the map room and be done with him.
There was an excessive amount of head-shot splatting and brain-matter drilling scenes that felt ponderous and overdone. If the goal is to be desensitized to the gore of Hosts or human death, they are well on their way. But I’m not sure that’s the most effective route to take when we’re supposed to be meditating on the value of “life,” whether it’s human or AI.Things to Ponder ...
That white monstrosity behind Bernard is revealed to be a Drone Host. They work on other humans and extract brain cores to log guest experiences & DNA. It always comes down to data, doesn't it?
What exactly did that infusion of Host fluid buy Bernard as he was melting down? Time? An upgrade?
Charlotte’s revelation that she needs to deliver Peter Abernathy to the Delos executives before they’ll send any help finally brings the story back to Dolores’ deactivated 'father' who holds something extremely important in his code. If the promised Delos “help” is Strand and his S&R crew, that means there will likely be some answer to the Peter question sooner than later if his location explains how Bernard ends up on the beach.
Little Robert Ford finds the Man in Black in the park to give some last personal kudos to one of his most dedicated customers. Ford then tasks him to “Find the door. The game will find you.” Sure, we get that MiB is over riddles but that’s a particularly harsh way to take out your virtual D&D gamemaster, man.
Stubbs lives! Now, we need to know how he, and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) survived their separate ambushes in Season 1. Why? It’s merely curiosity at this point because neither seem that necessary to the story.
By episode’s end, the S&R team find out that a Bengal tiger from another park has made its way into Westworld and that’s never happened before. If that’s the case, what else can we expect to find in the park? Shogun’s? Is the world just one great big Delos park and all of it will blend with his park meltdown?
What did you think of the Westworld Season 2 premiere and its revelations?