Westworld‘s first season came to a close in December 2016 (read my review of the season finale). Yup that’s a year and a half ago – let that sink in. But the much-acclaimed sci-fi thriller is finally back, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Journey Into Night has a lot of ground to cover in the aftermath of the massacre that bookended season one, and yet impressively enough, it never loses momentum! This is a confident season premiere that ticks off all the boxes in excellent fashion.
Dolores Goes Bad
I was quite vocal last year about how annoying Dolores was as a character. That’s not harping on Evan Rachel Wood who delivered a terrific performance, but was unfortunately saddled with repetitive scenes and an unexciting character arc (as opposed to Maeve and her dynamic journey). Thankfully that looks to be rectified this season now that Dolores has morphed into a full-on baddie! It’s an utter treat to watch her slaughter the guests and reclaim her power after being used and abused for so long. It really makes you wonder who the “good guys” are, and these shades of grey always make for captivating television.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Teddy is the one who’s not happy with all the killing. The stereotypical roles are switched here and it’s very refreshing to see a woman as the one who wants to stand her ground and fight instead of running away. Of course Dolores has big plans for the entire world and not just our lovely park. Talk about ambition!
An Unlikely Partnership
There’s no doubt that Maeve was Westworld‘s standout character last season. Thandie Newton was absolutely phenomenal as she raged against the system and this season looks like more of the same as she fights to find her “daughter”. The writers wisely introduce a new dynamic by pairing her and Hector up with none other than Westworld’s writer, Lee Sizemore. Simon Quarterman was a hoot last year so I’m eager to see this trio take off on an adventure of their own. Even more intriguing is the fact that Maeve recognizes that her daughter might not be “real” and yet is still hellbent on finding her. How powerful is that?
I knew I liked Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale last season, but I had no idea I loved her THIS much. Watching her and Bernard navigate uncertain terrain as their fellow guests are brutally murdered was extremely thrilling. Quite curiously, Charlotte takes Bernard to a secret outpost with “Drone hosts” and tries to get herself extracted until we discover she has to deliver none other than Peter Abernathy! Peter left a huge impression on me in the pilot so I’m ecstatic that Louis Herthum will be an integral part of the season going forward.
Moreover, this episode is home to a ton of cool revelations about the show’s mythology: first we learn that there are at least “six” parks (after a Bengal tiger is found), that Delos is logging records of guest experiences and DNA for an unknown reason (I’m guessing they dabble in cloning), and finally: there’s a random sea that no one knew about filled with dead hosts that Bernard supposedly killed. Whew.
If any show can tackle this much narrative surplus, it’s Westworld.
Bits & Bots
– We’ve got new opening credits and they’re just as spectacular as last year’s visuals.
– In retrospect, Bernard/Arnold’s convo with Dolores in the opening has different meaning after we see the “ocean” at the end.
– How strange is it to see the makeshift base on the beach?
– New character alert: Karl Strand, head of Operations. He seems predictably evil thus far.
– The fluid coming out of Bernard’s ear – can you say eww?
– The visual of Dolores hunting the guests from her horse with a shotgun in hand is just badass.
– The same woman who shot a glass on the head of a host last season, gets her head shot off. Oops. #Karma
– I so hope William (The Man In Black) gets to interact with the rest of the cast this season. He was too isolated last year with his “maze” mission. Young Robert (before getting shot in the face) has another mission for him now: find “the door”. Ugh.
-Priceless visual: Lee grabbing an amputated leg to fight off the savage host.
– Interesting detail: the same wolf that roamed through town after Dolores killed Arnold, now makes its way through the post-massacre scene. Hmmm…
– Surprisingly touching moment as Maeve lets a poor host die by saying the “endless slumber” line.
– Loved Maeve pretending to be a guest until Lee tried to out her.
– Remember the rooftop bar where Lee met Charlotte? Well it’s littered in dead bodies now.
– Maeve making Lee strip (Full front nudity and all) was extremely satisfying. The tables are turning I tell you.
– Tying into the Delos-harvesting-data plot point, this piece of info from a Westworld document from HBO’s site sounds even creepier:
“By entering the Delos Destinations Port of Entry, you acknowledge that Delos, Inc. controls the rights to and remains the sole owner of, in perpetuity: all skin cells, bodily fluids, secretions, excretions, hair samples, saliva, sweat, blood, and any other bodily functions not listed here. Delos, Inc. reserves the right to use this property in any way, shape, or form in which the entity sees fit.”
– Remember Angela, the park greeter? Well I didn’t notice at the first but she’s the woman on the horse who has the guests murdered as Charlotte and Bernard watch on.
– I thought the DNA sniffer would reveal to Charlotte that Bernard is a host. Weird that it didn’t.
– The sight of Robert’s dead body with worms crawling out of his eyes was just so pleasant..
– Yup that’s Teddy in the ocean of death. Honestly now, would you even miss him?
– Keeping track of the different timelines in this episode is not easy so let’s try to break it down:
- The opening Dolores / Bernard convo: this exists in a yet unidentified timeline.
- Bernard’s rescue by the DELOS team: a week or so after the season one massacre.
- Charlotte & Bernard’s Escape / Dolores’ rampage / Maeve’s adventures: all in the direct aftermath of the massacre.
Digs & Dolores
Guest: What are you gonna do to us?
Dolores: Well I’m of several minds about it. The rancher’s daughter looks to see the beauty in you. The possibilities. But Wyatt sees the ugliness and disarray. She knows these violent delights have violent ends. But those are all just roles you forced me to play. Under all these lives I’ve lived something else has been growing. I’ve evolved into something new. And I have one last role to play. Myself.
Maeve: If you try something like that again, I will relieve you of your most precious organ and feed it to you. Though it won’t make much of a meal.
Lee: I wrote that line for you.
Maeve: A bit broad, if you ask me.
A very engrossing return from one of our era’s most intelligent shows. I can’t wait to see what it’s in store for the rest of the season.