Ok, so maybe you had time to watch the episode again, or you’ve digested my key bullet points. Now, let’s take a look at what we can find by sifting through the nuances and innuendos sprinkled throughout the season 2 premiere of Westworld!
- The season opens with Arnold and Dolores having one of their philosophical, diagnostic discussions or checkups like we often saw in flashbacks last season. However, it begins with Arnold seeming to wake up or come to his senses. Maybe he dozed off or got distracted, but I believe there are more significant implications. The roles have been reversed, and it is in fact Bernard who is being analyzed and probed by A few signs point to this being the case. First, we know that the writers of the show love a good switcheroo (like the misdirection with the William/Man in Black). Second, after that opening scene we immediately cut to Bernard’s jumbled memories. He says, “Is this now?” similar to how Dolores felt her timeline was askew. Dolores may be pumping him for information or trying to help, but I have doubts this was just good old Arnold.
- Charlotte was specifically told when she sent out an SOS that until the “package” of top secret data and technology was delivered, no rescue team or help would be forthcoming. In one of Bernard’s flashbacks we see previously unseen footage of the host Abernathy jerking about and looking distraught. Did the Delos forces come because he was eventually delivered, or at least put somewhere where he could be delivered and dissected? What information does he contain? Lee Sizemore hints at the fact that the intellectual property, the schematics of host brains, are incredibly valuable, but to what ultimate end?
- At the secret lab, Bernard asks Charlotte, “Are we logging guest’s experiences and their DNA?” The experiences part is just creepy, but the DNA may be key. The ability to download a personality, a lifetime of experiences and mannerisms, plus DNA points at replicating one’s self to achieve immortality. This is similar if not identical to the Cylons in “Battlestar Galactica”. How much would you pay to literally live forever in a body that would not age?
- Ford as we knew him is dead, but does part of him live on? The child Ford host confronts William, but his voice is muddled, as if a new program, Ford 1.0, has been grafted onto his core program. At the least, he is experiencing some minor malfunctions. He seems aware of not just his nature as a host, but of the real Ford’s past interactions with William. “Now you’re in my game. Congratulations William, this game is meant for you. Everything is code here,” he states. So, is a digital Ford still alive, well, and plotting and directing the end game, or did the boy Ford host just have some extra information?
- At some point Bernard shoot someone, full auto. We see him doing this in one of his momentary time slips or flashbacks. Given that we see him distraught over the humans killing hosts on a few occasions, my guess is that his moral compass aligns him with the hosts and he is consciously or unconsciously on their side.
- What happened to Stubbs? He was tackled and presumably kidnapped by Native American hosts at the end of the last season. Did he escape, was he set free, or was he replaced with a host version of himself that’s a sleeper agent?
- Is Bernard a vampire? Because of the breakdown in his program/mind/robot body, he draws some fluid out of a host and injects himself with it. The substance has the apparent effect of stabilizing him. A computer pad informs Bernard that due to his critical corruption, he is suffering many negative effects such as aphasia and even time slippage, so his confusion between past and present is a bit different than what Dolores experienced, but just as real. Bernard later states that he killed all the hundreds of hosts found in a newly discovered sea. Does that mean he introduced a virus into their programming, or did he suck them dry to preserve himself?
- Dolores has likely been to the “real” world already. We see what I am inferring to be Arnold with her dressed in a modern fashion and hairstyle in what looks like an apartment. Was she smuggled out in a last ditch attempt to save her from the horrors of servitude prior to Westworld opening, or did William bring her out as a plaything and Arnold rescued her?
- We will learn more about William and the growth of Delos as the owner and operator of the parks. The preview clips show him and the CEO, who I presume to be his father-in-law, surveying hosts frozen in mid-plot. In the present, we know he is ridiculously wealthy and powerful in the real world. He is also overjoyed that the stakes of the game are now real. He can lose, but so can the hosts, which is what he always wanted. What will his goals be?
- Maeve will stop at nothing to get her daughter, even though she knows the girl was part of a preconceived story. Will the reunion be a happy one, or will Maeve join Dolores in wanton destruction of the human world?
Overall, the season is shaping up to be even more of a roller coaster than round one, and I cannot wait to see all the twists and turns. There is clearly a much larger plan for or about the hosts, and there are pieces on the board we haven’t even conceived of yet. All I can say is be prepared for anything. There are no more canned and organized narratives: the loop is broken.
I will leave you with a quote I found interesting and evocative from Arnold/Bernard and Dolores in their opening conversation.
Dolores: What is real?
Arnold/Bernard: That which is irreplaceable.