Westworld returned tonight with “Journey Into Night” after nearly two years in hiatus… for us. For the residents of this mind f***, it’s been between 24 hours or two weeks, depending on who the cameras are following and whether or not they’re keeping it together.
The episode opens with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard/Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) having one of their basement conversations. He tells her of a dream he had that he was on an ocean, and that he’d been left behind by all the hosts. Then he tells her that dreams don’t mean anything and that he gets scared sometimes of what she could become.
Cut to present day (?), and Bernard is flashing back and forth between different moments, with substantial blackouts in-between. He indeed awakens on the shore of an ocean, waves lapping at him, when a team of Delos security personnel led by Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) find and “rescue” him. (Nobody left alive knows he’s a host, except him.)
Bernard sticks with this team as they try to piece together what happened and regain control of the park. They’re executing hosts as they find them, and they perform a field download on a dead Native American to see what he last saw. It was Dolores, 11 days ago, killing the hosts that didn’t deserve to go with her to the promised land, “the valley beyond.”
Immediately, Bernard’s consciousness switches to hunkering down in a barn with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and a handful of other guests in the aftermath of the massacre. He appears to have developed Dolores’s difficulty with knowing which timeline is the present, and now he’s within one day of the party that ended in a bloodbath.
Outside the barn, some rough hosts are playing “William Tell” with a guest. When they shoot her in the head, they give up and go in search of other amusements, leaving the hiding guests and Bernard with a chance to escape. He knows how to get out of the park, and they head towards the access point he believes is closest.
Along the way, most of their party is killed by hosts when they fall into a trap. Bernard senses that something is off, when he sees it and holds Charlotte back, saving her. In return, she takes him to an access point he doesn’t know about and reveals that she has her own lair underneath the park, operated by faceless drone hosts and home to Delos’s data pirating operation.
In the lair, Bernard is able to surreptitiously treat his critical processor malfunction while Charlotte changes clothing. She contacts Delos through a secret communications channel, requesting emergency extraction, but they tell her they won’t send a plane until their “package” arrives.
The package is Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), the host she stowed all of Ford’s IP in, and he’s gone missing. Bernard uses a host-to-host pinging system to track him down, and they set out to find him.
Before they do, Bernard switches back to the present and the search party trying to find the remaining hosts. They do this with satellite data, but when they arrive at the valley the hosts are supposed to be congregated in, they find a sea that isn’t supposed to be there and hundreds of dead hosts floating in it.
Wait. What??? (I know.)
Meanwhile, sometime within that two week span, Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) are dishing out justice to the humans they find and preparing to go to the valley beyond. They do some kissing and some soul searching, and then one of Wyatt’s gang finds them and tells Dolores that they’ve “found it.” It’s time for Teddy to see the truth.
What truth? What? (I know.)
At another place in space/time, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) has survived the massacre like a cockroach, hiding under the bodies of others until the coast cleared. He makes his way to his cabin to get his horse and his iconic hat, then runs into the host that’s a version of young Robert Ford. This host tells him that he’s now in a new game just for him, and the objective is to get out of the maze he conquered last time. The little host says that the game will find him, so Man in Black/William shoots it and rides away.
OK. That one was more straightforward, right?
Rounding out the premiere episode is Maeve (Thandie Newton), who was on her way out of the park when all heck broke loose in the finale. She’s come back to find her daughter using coordinates she was given before she could leave the park, so she goes looking for a map inside the nerve center of backstage, where she also finds a cowering Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman).
They strike a tenuous deal to work together to find her daughter, based on her having a gun, control of all hosts and superhuman everything and him wanting to not be dead. Together, they find Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) in the HQ bar, injured and surrounded by dead guests.
Maeve, still wearing the guest clothing she commandeered at the end of the last episode, takes Hector back inside to heal him and forces Lee to change into host garb. She makes Lee strip to nothing, issuing some of the payback he deserves for pulling her out of the frontier life she remembers and making her a prostitute. (And paying us back for all the boobs HBO usually throws in our faces with a little ween.)
Totally straightforward. Fingers crossed that next week will follow any of these storylines!
Note of appreciation for the mini Thor: Ragnarok reunion on Westworld. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) might not have appeared (alive) in this episode, but Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the actor who plays Thor in Loki’s play on Asgard (Luke Hemsworth) did. Fun!