All right, everyone. I’m back! Today, I will be giving you a quick recap of some salient points from each episode of the first half of Season 2 of Westworld. I will also raise a talking point or two for each episode. So far, not a lot of the questions left hanging by Season 1 have been answered, and a lot more questions have been piled on top. I, for one, am enjoying the ride so far and can’t wait to see what comes. Shall we go ahead and dive in?
Episode 1: Journey into Night
- This picks up where season one left off, both immediately after and 11 days in the future. Immediately after the hosts ambush the Delos execs, the main characters break off into several groups: Dolores and Teddy of course go galivanting off together; Maeve forces Lee Sizemore (the park’s storyline author) to guide her to her daughter and picks up Hector along the way; Bernard and Charlotte Hale end up running for their lives together, and Bernard has a nagging head injury that threatens to render him inoperable; and William, the Man in Black, sets off on his own new adventure, ready for blood and the struggle for meaning.
- 11 days in the future, Delos has finally sent a rescue party headed up by Floki from Vikings (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Stubbs, whose escape from the Ghost Nations is yet to be detailed. They discover Bernard and dozens of dead hosts in a brand new inland sea within the park. Later on, they also discover a dead robot tiger that apparently escaped from Park 6, which as of now is not named.
- During their flight and discovery of an independent satellite lab full of faceless, half-finished servant hosts, Hale reveals to Bernard the big scheme to use Peter Abernathy (Dolores’s host father) to smuggle out personal, behavioral, and genetic information on the park’s guests. Why is still left hanging at this point.
Episode 2: Reunion
- At first glance, this episode feels like filler, and perhaps earns the season the accusation of unevenness that the first season definitely did not have, but there is plenty to be gleaned here.
- The loveliest scene in the episode has to fall near the beginning and is Arnold’s interactions with the recently completed Dolores in his partially completed home back stateside. His fatherly concern for her well-being is touching and is only magnified by his comparison of her to his son. I feel that some of Arnold’s original motivations are finally surfacing here. In creating the hosts, he wants to create not slaves, not sex robots, but better people, innocent people who will not die. It is a shame that the backdrop for this scene is a pitch to Logan Delos for funding that preys upon his sexual appetites. That said, besides the two spots in the timeline demonstrated in the first episode, this season also has frequent flashbacks to living Arnold and young(er) William.
- This episode also focuses more strongly on William, both in the past and in the narrative present. In the past, William successfully pitches fully funding Westworld to his father-in-law, Jim Delos, whose importance to the story this season is certainly understated at this point. After, the Man in Black recruits his old sidekick Lawrence for his adventure to Glory, the place everyone seems to be heading this season. A small aside: this episode also reveals Giancarlo Esposito (the guy who played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad) to have replaced Lawrence as the host gang leader El Lazo, though it’s a shame this will likely be his only appearance.
Episode 3: Virtu e Fortuna
- Park 6 is finally revealed in the prologue of the episode, and it is a Victorian Indian Raj World apparently set up for hunting robotic game. We are also given a new character, Grace (played by Katja Herbers), who flees the malfunctioning hosts, including a familiar tiger, and dives into the newly finished inland sea shown in the first episode.
- This episode is pretty action-packed and doesn’t advance the plotline of journeying to Glory overmuch, but it has some great moments. Dolores’s Wyatt shell slips when she sees her malfunctioning father and her softer side reemerges. Bernard hilariously reprograms one of the vile outlaw hosts to be a virtuous gunfighter with superhuman speed. And Maeve and company finally reconnect with Armistice (Hector’s second-in-command with the snake tattoo of the awesome post-credits scene last season), who has now somehow replaced her severed arm with a flamethrower.
Episode 4: The Riddle of the Sphinx
- This episode ties together a few of the strings laid out by the season so far, primarily the importance of Jim Delos, Logan’s father. The episode prologue reveals him held in a fairly luxurious, though lonely, apartment. William comes to visit, toting whiskey, and engages in banter with the old man, culminating in the passing of a printout from William to Delos. It is stated that Delos is simply being held in treatment for an unnamed disease, though it is obvious something else is going on. It becomes clear as William visits again and again that this is only a host copy of Jim Delos, the original having died years earlier from a disease he himself defunded research on. William has spent decades attempting to use the park’s resources to resurrect his father-in-law, eventually accepting it may be impossible, and that perhaps some people just shouldn’t be brought back, anyway.
- In the narrative present of 11 days ago, zombie Clementine drags Bernard away from the big battle at the end of last episode to a cave where he encounters the chained up and suspiciously clean Elsie. She doesn’t trust Bernard, being as he kidnapped her on Ford’s orders, but she comes around once he reveals he’s actually a host. Even now, Elsie trusts machines more than people. They manage to sneak in the secret facility entrance at the back of the cave and discover the area where the Jim Delos copy host has been left imprisoned for an undisclosed amount of time. He has gone utterly insane and even murdered the employee left to watch him.
- Elsewhere, William outsmarts his captors, another band displaced by the battle from last episode, and in an uncharacteristically noble move, rescues Lawrence and his family, thereby recruiting Lawrence and his cousins for the quest for Glory. It is worth referring back to William’s earlier mention that Glory was his one great addition to the park and its narrative, and his greatest shame. It’s fairly clear at this point that Glory is the facility where experiments in creating host copies of existing humans have been taking place, with Jim Delos as the prototype of the effort. There is also some connection here with Peter Abernathy being used a personal data mule, but why he had to be smuggled off the island housing the parks rather than to the Glory facility is still a missing puzzle piece.
- This episode ends with William and his band running into Grace on horseback while riding off into the sunset, and she is revealed to be William’s daughter.
Episode 5: Akane No Mai
- We finally get a full glimpse of Shogun World after the big tease at the end of last season, and it is awesome! Through character comment and brilliant musical choices, it is revealed that Shogun World’s narratives (at least the ones immediately apparent) are lifted from Westworld, which is a treat given how much westerns and samurai films actually borrowed from each other in the 1950s and 60s.
- The additions of Shogun World Hector, Musashi (played by Hiroyuki Sanada of The Last Samurai), Shogun World Armistice, Hanaryo (played by Tao Okamoto of The Wolverine), and Shogun World Maeve, Akane (played by Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim) are fantastic. I honestly hope we get to see much more of all three characters as the season and story progress, despite dire circumstances at the end of this episode.
- Besides the Edo Era Awesomeness going on in this episode, another major event among another group of characters occurs—Dolores has Teddy reprogrammed to be more vicious and unquestioning, effectively robbing him of the freedoms she now enjoys so much. We will have to see if Dolores continues down the path of hypocritical monster as the series progresses.
Some ideas on the way out:
- Early in the season, we saw Ford’s dead, maggot-riddled body right where it fell after Dolores shot him. Are we finally convinced Ford is actually dead, despite the fact he seems to speak through his host child self to William, or is some aspect of him still out there? Pre-recorded messages aside, could there be a host copy of Ford out there somewhere in Glory? After all, we never saw who that new host being built in Ford’s secret lab was.
- How in control of herself do you believe Maeve really is? Or Dolores, for that matter? It was revealed that Maeve’s escape from Westworld was likely a narrative she was following, and that her choice to stay and find her daughter was the first truly free idea she experienced. So, where are those important distinctions in Dolores? Is she free or still running some old narrative possibly left behind by Arnold or Ford?
- Glory and host copies of the world’s fatcats—is this a setup for future seasons? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you all for reading and having me back. Please feel free to discuss any idea I opened up or to bring up anything I overlooked or misunderstood. I look forward to engaging in healthy discussion, and I also look forward to writing more about this more often in the future. Thanks again!