Violent delights have violent ends. To that end, the delightful season premiere of Westworld ended quite violently indeed.
The closing moments of “Journey Into Night,” directed by Richard J. Lewis and written by Lisa Joy and Roberto Patino, featured one of the most jaw-dropping images of the HBO series thus far: a veritable ocean filled with dead hosts. And not just a few hosts, either. It’s a huge cluster of them, if not quite every single host in Westworld, with at least one high-profile casualty: Teddy (James Marsden).
For a show in which series regulars are killed off and resurrected only to die again another day with alarming regularity, Marsden’s Teddy takes the top spot with ease. He’s killed numerous times in the first season of the show — heck, he’s killed twice in the very first episode — which might serve as a shorthand for the truth behind his latest death: not only is it impermanent, it’s very likely planned in advance.
“I see it all now so clearly,” Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) tells Teddy earlier in the episode. “The past, the present, the future… I know how this story ends.”
Dolores goes on to tell Teddy that the story ends with the two of them — “with you and me,” she utters before the two share a passionate kiss. If we’re taking Dolores’ words at face value, then Teddy’s state at the end of the premiere would either be a big blindside for the revolutionary occasionally known as Wyatt, or it’s all part of a plan that’s yet to fully manifest itself.
Planting the flag now: Dolores is the person responsible for the dead hosts floating in a newly made sea. There are a few reasons to believe why these deaths are on her shoulders, despite the fact that Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) takes ownership over the act at the end of the premiere. (“I killed them. All of them,” he tells Karl Strand, the new series regular played by Gustaf Skarsgård.) Let’s bullet out a few of the ways:
• Dolores has killed several hosts, in addition to humans. She killed some in self-defense during the first season. She outright murders a number of them in the season two premiere, such as the host whose memories Costa (Fares Fares) probes near the beginning of the episode. “I told you, friend,” she says before shooting the host, “not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond.” Dolores’ capacity to kill her own kind is well documented, in other words.
• The manner in which the dead hosts are presented mirrors the dream Arnold (Wright) lays out for Dolores at the start of the episode: “I dreamt I was on an ocean with you and the others on the distant shore … you had left me behind, and the waters were rising around me.” Dolores would have the means and motive to craft a scene that evokes Arnold’s dream…
• …unless it’s not Arnold’s dream, and the scene at the top of the episode takes place between Dolores and Bernard some time after the appearance of all these dead hosts. Could we be looking at a power reversal between the two characters? Quite possibly.
There’s also the straightforward possibility that Bernard, as he claims at the end of the episode, really is indeed the person of interest in the mass murder of the hosts… but he could be speaking figuratively, that the dream he once shared with Dolores has now been perverted into this grisly action, or some other form of defiance that forced Dolores’ hand.
Also on the table: Bernard is acutely aware of what happened over the last two weeks, aligned his cause with Dolores’ somewhere along the way, and is now keeping secrets both from Strand as well as the audience. Similarly tricky maneuvers have been made on this show in the past.
The “whodunnit” of it all notwithstanding, equally big questions include the how, when and why of how the hosts died — and what happens next. Here’s the one certainty: two weeks of time passed from the moment Dolores assassinated Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and the moment Strand, Bernard and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) discovered the dead hosts — in other words, a significant stretch of time for this particular mystery to unfold.
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.