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“What is real?”
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) posits this very good question at the start of “Journey Into Night,” the first new episode of Westworld since season one wrapped in 2016. It’s a question at the heart of the series itself, as the hosts contemplate the nature of their own existence, and even the human guests who occupy the park are being forced to confront the very real ramifications of enacting their wildest, most violent fantasies.
Within the space of a single episode, Westworld delivered countless answers to questions left up in the air at the end of the first season finale. Why did Maeve (Thandie Newton) decide to stay in the park? Because she wants to find her daughter. How would the Man in Black (Ed Harris) survive the night Dolores and the other hosts announced their rebellion? By hiding underneath a big pile of dead Delos board executives. Is Dolores still Dolores, or is she Wyatt now? She’s neither: she’s someone new, who has been evolving beneath both of those personalities.
Naturally, along with new answers, new questions have emerged — such as the following:
1. What happened to the hosts?
The final scene of the season premiere features a vast quantity of hosts floating face-down in a sea that should not exist. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) claims he’s responsible for killing them, but will the final answer be as straightforward? Our leading theory puts Dolores behind the act, likely with some plan to use the deceased hosts as an ambush against the Delos security team. Whatever happened to these hosts (including James Marsden’s Teddy, the most prominently featured host of the lot), expect the mystery to last for quite a while, if not the full season ahead.
2. How many timelines are in play?
The first season included at least three critical moments in time: the Arnold (Wright) era, the William (Jimmi Simpson) era, and the modern era which culminated with Dolores and Maeve’s self-actualization. So far, season two features at least two distinct time periods: the immediate aftermath of Dolores assassinating Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and launching her revolution, and two weeks later when Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) and his security forces arrived on the scene. But should we be keeping an eye out on any further discrepancies in the timeline? For example, the first scene of the season sees Dolores speaking with Arnold… or is that Bernard? Borrowing a phrase from another mind-bending genre show: is it future, or is it past?
3. What — or who — is the game?
“The game will find you.” That’s what the young host version of Robert Ford tells the Man in Black during their fateful encounter in the wilderness. The way he phrases the ominous riddle makes it sound as if the Man in Black’s new game isn’t just a mystery to solve, but a mystery to meet — one that begins where it ends, and ends where it begins. Is Ford describing Dolores, the most important figure in Westworld lore, certainly in William’s eyes?
4. Is Ford really dead?
William won’t get the answer to the previous question from Ford directly, considering he shot the young host directly in the head. But anyone who thinks we’ve seen the last of Ford is likely gravely mistaken. Not that he’s going to return from the dead in a literal sense (the decomposing body found by Strand and his team makes it clear: flesh-and-blood Ford is very much deceased), but as the little boy tells William: “Everything in the park is code.” It’s a sweeping notion, one that could certainly include a continued existence for Ford as he plays the role of dungeon master from the great beyond.
5. How long before Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) dies?
The man misguidedly attempted to outsmart Maeve, selling her out to the Mesa’s security forces. He narrowly survived with his favorite organ intact. Sizemore later bemoaned his uselessness when it comes to surviving the great outdoors, that he barely knows how to make fire. Right now, he only brings three things to the table: comic relief, knowledge of the park’s colorful cast of characters, and the whereabouts of Maeve’s daughter. As soon as he gives up the goods on the last two points, it’s hard to imagine Maeve letting Sizemore outlive his usefulness. With that said, actor Simon Quarterman has promised a season of great change for Sizemore; the only question is, will the change have a lasting impact, or will it come at the expense of Lee’s life?
6. What’s up with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth)?
Two weeks have passed since Westworld went to the hosts. Before Dolores enacted her rebellion, Stubbs was last seen engaging hosts from Ghost Nation, tackled by an unseen someone. So far, in his many scenes in the premiere, there wasn’t a single mention of what happened to Stubbs and how he fought his way back to the security team. With that said, here’s a wild pitch of a theory: the Stubbs currently traveling with Strand and Bernard is not really Stubbs at all, but a host built after the security expert’s likeness. Robot Hemsworth, engage!
7. Are the drone hosts powered by nightmare fuel?
Speaking of new hosts, how about those faceless drones Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) introduced to Bernard in the secret outpost? These creatures are positively terrifying, and we all know it’s just a matter of time before they are unleashed in an out-and-out horror sequence. The means for how such a scene would play out have already presented themselves: the drone hosts are only accommodating Charlotte and Bernard due to DNA recognition. If anyone, human or host, inadvertently runs into one of the drones? Game over. Note to future Sizemore: steer clear of the secret outpost.
8. Who will Dolores become?
“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.” Dolores has decided she’s done with playing as “Wyatt,” that she’s no longer the “rancher’s daughter.” She’s simply Dolores, through and through. But who is this person? She’s someone who leaves three humans perched atop graves, nooses around their neck, without any real chance to survive. In their final scene of the episode together, Teddy looks at Dolores in fear, an expression that echoes Bernard’s (or is it Arnold’s?) own thoughts about Dolores from the start of the episode: “I’m frightened of what you might become, what path you might take.”
9. Where is Abernathy (Louis Herthum)?
Charlotte and Bernard have honed in on coordinates for the missing-in-action host, currently loaded up with key intel about the park. Where did he wander off to? And while we’re on the subject of missing persons, why didn’t we see Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) at the lab? And why didn’t Armistice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) resurface when Maeve tracked down Hector (Rodrigo Santoro)? How about Elsie (Shannon Woodward), missing in action since the sixth episode of season one? So many missing people! So many questions! So little time!
10. Wait, what was that about an island?
“Have him sign an NDA and get him off my island,” newcomer Strand commands near the top of the episode. An island, you say? The park’s specific whereabouts have been high on the list of most confounding mysteries about Westworld since the show’s inception, with speculation as wild as placing the park in space. The mention of an island seems to ground Westworld on Earth… but where on Earth?
11. Forget Shogun World…
…what’s the deal with Park 6? Westworld and Shogun World are listed as Park 1 and Park 2 on DelosDestinations.com, which means Park 6 — the place where the Bengali tiger hails from — is another place entirely. It doesn’t look like it’s something one would find in Medieval World or Roman World, so we’re talking about another themed park completely. Jungle World, anyone? Cat World? The possibilities are almost intriguing enough to make you forget about the premiere’s complete lack of Shogun World — almost.
What are your theories about the premiere’s harrowing final moments? Sound off in the comments below and follow all of our coverage over at THR.com/Westworld.
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