Saddle up! But beware potential spoilers in this review, which will discuss elements of the episode.
Welcome back to Westworld! It has been a long wait for more episodes of the show, but this season premiere – Journey Into Night – a reference to American playwright Eugene O’Neill’s magnum opus Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which seems appropriate given the level of soul (or hard drive) searching the characters on this show are wont to go through. We’re thrown straight into the plot whirlwind once again, and mysteries are once again brewing, but from the evidence of this initial offering, it does feel like the creative team have learned a few of the lessons of the first season, doling out more information and solving smaller riddles within each episode while laying breadcrumbs towards the bigger questions. With luck, they might actually be able to show us answers before the Internet hive mind guesses and reveals everything…
But if you were hoping that the show was done with time-hopping, we have bad news: thanks to Bernard/Arnold/it’s Jeffrey Wright, just go with it, we keep flashing between different periods. A bullet in the noggin will do that to you. At least now we have more of a grasp on the distinct stories being told here. And there’s a little more cohesion now the lion’s (or should that be tiger’s?) share of the world building has been done.
Of the various timelines and tales being told here, it helps to have Wright’s character as an anchor of sorts. And what’s going on around him somehow feels more satisfying for those frustrated by the narrative trickery. There are much more clearly defined objectives here, even if a lot is still in shadow. Maeve’s mission to reunite with her child (more great sass and spine from Thandie Newton on display), Dolores’ grand plan to seize control from her former human overlords and Bernard learning more of Delos darker plans thanks to Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale. So the hosts were collecting information on the guests via their DNA from sexual (and, one assumes other) encounters? We’ve heard of your data being in danger, but this is quite something. The imagery of the Drone Hosts is also unique and creepy on another level.
The nature of the park also came into clearer focus, as we learn here that it’s on an island (a nod to Jurassic Park, which just makes us hope for a dinosaur park down the line even more than ever) and that a nearby government – China? – isn’t happy with Delos’ actions.
And while we don’t see William this week, we do check in with Ed Harris’ Man In Black, who must surely be pleased that the park is now running at Bastard Hard Level. And a game designed just for him by Robert Ford (shout out to a quick voice cameo from Anthony Hopkins)? He finally got his wish, and now he’ll have to figure out what lies beyond The Door… If he survives. Not cool shooting kid Ford, though, man.
Elsewhere Dolores and Teddy and continuing their run of vengeance. Well, we say their, but Teddy doesn’t seem to be down with the programme. Which might be why he ends up dead with a load of other hosts in that shocking final moment. Bernard thinks he did it, but who knows if that’s the truth, given how he’s been manipulated in the past. Still it allows for this: OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED TEDDY! YOU BASTARDS!
1. Park six? SIX? This place really is bigger has been hinted at. We know we’re going to see Shogun World, but now we really want to see what else lurks out there. There’s scope for entire seasons that take place outside the boundaries of the title venue.
2. So we’re seeing Arnold – the man who will be the basis for Bernard – in the past. Does this mean Anthony Hopkins could still return?
3. Just what the hell is Delos up to with smuggling information in DNA? There’s some darker, grand plan here, and they’ll do anything to cover it up. Makes you wonder who the real enemies are here…
4. Anyone else secretly delighted about how much of a rough ride the snobby, squirmy Lee Sizemore is in for? Kudos to Simon Quarterman for making him enjoyably slimy, but he really is a dick. No, er, pun intended there.
5. The whole removable brain thing is something we haven’t totally been introduced to before, so surely that’ll come into play down the line? It’s possibly a way to save characters who’ve died. And Dolores did say that “it ends with you and me”, so…
Read previous episode reviews below…
Westworld airs on HBO in the US on Sunday nights and Mondays on Sky Atlantic in the UK