Westworld returned with a time-jumping, storyline-hopping, ultra-violent hour-plus premiere and if you’re already totally confused you have come to the right place. The riveting and gorgeously shot season 2 opener, “Journey Into Night,” was structured a lot like a typical season premiere for HBO’s other big tentpole genre show, Game of Thrones. Both hits deftly launch seasons by re-introducing a flurry of different narratives in various locations, but Westworld piles on the trickiness by also moving back and forth in time. We’re going to break down all those revelations and plot twists for you (and make one wild prediction at the end), starting with….
Arnold (30-Some Years Ago): We open with a flashback; Dolores and Arnold having an Analysis Mode chat. You can tell it’s human Arnold and not host Bernard because his beard is less neatly trimmed and he’s all bummed out (Arnold makes stiff and sober Bernard look like a man rolling on molly).
Arnold says he dreamed Dolores and the other hosts were on a distant shore and he’d been left behind with “the waters rising around me.” He tells her dreams don’t mean anything, but this one seems totally prophetic given that he eventually kills himself and the hosts are now plotting to escape the park. “Why on Earth would you ever be frightened of me?” creepy Dolores asks.
Next there are a bunch of Bernard flashes. Some are from last season, but most are from moments to come this season if you want to go back and get a preview.
Bernard (Present): Bernard wakes amid the waves on a beach and we’re flashing back to Inception. Having been shot in the head near the end of last year and then survived the start of the robot apocalypse, the conflicted host has the worst post-party hangover ever. He’s met by the park’s security chief Stubbs (an actor listed in the credits as “You Know, That Other Hemsworth?”).
Stubbs went AWOL near the end of last season and has met up with the quality control team sent by Delos that has landed on the beach. This group has deadly weapons, fancy technology, and, most importantly, really cool dune buggies that look they were last used for hunting raptors on Isla Nublar. They’re led by a new character, Karl Strand. We don’t know much about him other than he seems like a jerk.
Oh, and one other thing. They have red cards and Bernard is on one of them. He’s listed as “high priority.” We assume these cards are used to ID Delos staff. Stubbs and Strand (which sounds like a hipster menswear line where all the models in their Facebook ads have beards) don’t realize Bernard is actually a host…UNLESS, of course, they totally realize Bernard is a host, and are pretending not to know in order to gain his cooperation and figure out what happened (yes, we’re only a few minutes into the new season and already have a conspiratorial fan theory).
But first, Strand deals with a military officer and orders him “off my island.”