What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 Recap
Dolores and Arnold/Bernard are sitting in a room discussing dreams. One is a robot who has likely achieved sentience, the other is a robot modeled off a real person who thought he was a real person until he learned he’s a robot. We don’t know when or where this is taking place. We don’t know how much either of these characters know.
It’s a scene that is a reverse reflection of the opening of Season One, when Bernard questioned Dolores about the nature of her reality. That was back when a robot was a robot and a human was a human, and Westworld was just a fun show about cowboy machines. Simpler times.
Now the roles are switched. Dolores questions Bernard about his dreams. In fact, she’s kind of running shit now, riding around town with a rifle and a vendetta. Are you keeping track? Because, holy hell, Westworld is back, folks! Grab your Psychology 101 textbook and strap on your six-shooter. Let me break it down this very complex Season Two premiere by individual storylines in order to keep things organized.
Bernard/Arnold, Stubbs, and Charlotte
Bernard wakes up on some sort of shore, which we can assume is a few days after the Dolores-led massacre at the end of Season One. I’m basing this on the level of decay the bodies are in later in this episode, when Bernard and the rest of the Delos response team returns to find Dr. Robert Ford’s body decomposing (likely meaning this person who was shot was human, as creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have confirmed). All logic points to this scene taking place in present time, but we can never be too sure with this show. He’s found by Stubbs, who’s working with the rest of the Delos and Westworld response team to fight the host insurrection. Almost immediately, we get our first extremely Westworld clue: A man, who later identifies himself as Hal Strand, head of operations, explains to a soldier, “See, this it’s an official statement, signed by your country, giving Delos entire authority over this island.”
The most logical explanation is that Westworld exists on some sort of island that’s inside the borders of some other country. It would appear that this country sent in soldiers to take control of the situation. Somehow, Delos was able to legally obtain authority over handling the massacre at Westworld. This is a subtle clue that indicates where this park is and how it fits into greater international relations of the real world.
Immediately, Strand explains the wider response to the situation: There are teams at the “other parks,” likely meaning the five other Delos parks that we haven’t seen yet—including Shogun World, which will appear in this season. Bernard doesn’t have much information about what happened, though. Possibly shell shocked from the carnage, or having an existential crisis about learning his true identity, or from something that happened in the days after the massacre.
Looking for answers, they open the brain of a host modeled after an American Indian. (Some tech guy scalps the host then decides to tell them that it’s about to get gross, which he could have said two seconds earlier.) Inside this host’s scalp is the maze image from Season One. (Why? We don’t know yet.) The last thing this host saw was Dolores shooting him before she said, “Not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond.” This happened 11 days ago—which, according to my timeline, means Dolores killed this man before the massacre.
The episode then moves into what we can naturally assume is a flashback to Bernard’s experiences immediately after the massacre. He’s with Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale, and the two of them make it out safely to some lab that Bernard didn’t know about. There, he runs into the drone hosts who have been harvesting guest DNA from the hosts’ private parts. That’s pretty concerning! Is Delos attempting to make hosts that look identical to human guests? We don’t know for sure, but Charlotte informs Bernard that Delos isn’t going to send in help until they get their hands on a very valuable host aka Peter Abernathy, Dolores’s father. But, as he’s trying to track down the host, Bernard has to repair himself from an injury that he received during their escape. Conveniently, he’s experiencing blackouts, time-slippage, and confusion among his malfunctions. (Aren’t we all, buddy.)
Back in the present time (?), after washing on shore at the beach, Bernard and the Delos crew return to the scene of the massacre. I guess we can assume they’ve been in Westworld this whole time, which begs the question: Where did Bernard wash up on the shore from, exactly? They continue their investigation to “one of the first anomalies.” It’s a tiger! I don’t remember those in any old cowboy movies.
“We’ve got bengals in Park 6,” Stubbs says. “We’ve never had a stray cross park boarders.” Okay, this likely means the tiger traveled over from Shogun World. We can also imply that these parks are individual islands, separated by large bodies of water. And for some reason the hosts from Shogun World are trying to get into Westworld.
Finally, Bernard and Co. travel to where a large congregation of hosts have gathered, which is in the middle of a body of water that wasn’t there before. Upon seeing this, Bernard has a bit of a breakdown. He looks at the dead bodies and whispers, “I killed them. All of them.”
Dolores and Teddy
I’m going to start with the most delightful news first: Our sweet boy Teddy didn’t die in this episode! In fact, he’s gone an entire hour without even being injured. He even shares a lengthy kiss with Dolores, which may be evidence of real love as opposed to a programmed narrative (but who knows!). Unfortunately, this all happens as the two roam around Westworld, offing humans. It’s likely (although not certain) that Delores is acting on her own free will. The best evidence we have to this is a monologue creepily and brilliantly delivered by Evan Rachel Wood:
The rancher’s daughter sees the beauty but Wyatt sees the ugliness. Those are all just roles you forced me to play. Under all these lives I’ve lived, something else has been brewing. I’ve evolved into something new, and I have one last role to play: myself.
Honestly, it’s a pretty badass monologue. She’s getting her revenge to the countless horrors inflicted upon her by these wealthy business assholes. For the most part, that’s what we get out of Dolores this episode. She meets up Talulah Riley’s character Angela to show Teddy something important. And a reminder—and I can’t stress this enough—dear, good Teddy did not die this episode.
By this point you’ve obviously noticed the obvious role reversal that’s happened. Now, the hosts are the ones playing with and slaughtering humans. They are in control after 30-something years of abuse at the hands of their human creators. What’s interesting to consider is most of these robots are doing exactly what they’re programmed to do—which is to kill.
William/The Man in Black
Old William—AKA Ed Harris’s The Man in Black—survived the massacre, and goddamn, the guy is loving this shit. The stakes are real now, and it’s like he’s been waiting 30 years for this. Despite getting shot in the arm, William is still a total badass, enjoying himself as he dispatches a couple of hosts trying to kill him.
There’s one important scene in particular to chat about with William. Remember when Robert Ford was building his own creepy robot family, which included a version of himself as a child? Well, that child is back. He approaches William somewhere in the woods, speaking with an altered version of Robert’s voice. “But now, you’re in my game,” the kid says. “In this game you must find the door. Congratulations, William, this game is meant for you.”
William, ever the pacifist, shoots the kid in the head. But was this a preprogrammed message? Or has Robert somehow found a way to transfer his consciousness into these hosts?
Maeve and Hector
Having exercised her own free will, as the creators confirmed, Maeve is back in Westworld looking for her daughter. She runs into Lee Sizemore, a slimy writer type (we suck!) whom she manipulates into helping on her search. He asks her if she did all of this, to which she answers, “No, but I suspect I share the sensibilities of whoever did.” She’s talking unknowingly about the late Robert Ford, who edited the programming along with Dolores to set all of this in motion. Now, Dolores is leading this revolution, which means her and Maeve will likely meet up soon. Maeve and Lee go fix up Hector, who seems to have the hots for Maeve—and vice versa. (Is this love real, or programmed? I have no clue at this point.)
And look at me, rambling on too long without even mentioning the dick in the room: The first nudity we get in Westworld is a lengthy dick-and-ass shot. And this is important for a number of reasons. Last season, the show got quite a bit of backlash for its excessive nudity and violence toward women. This scene is a clear response, showing the power reversal in Season Two. Maeve instructs Sizemore to undress until he’s totally naked, which echoes the essential scene in Game of Thrones in which Emilia Clarke commands Daario to strip. Like in that Game of Thrones scene, Westworld has established female authority into the show.
In this role reversal, Maeve treats Sizemore as an object, as the humans did to her for many years. These images of nudity are, as co-creator Lisa Joy recently told Elle.com, “the metaphors. These robots represent the oppressed, the silenced of the world.” This scene is crucial in order to depict this shift of power, as we saw with Bernard.