Westworld returned from a long hiatus with its season 2 premiere “Journey into Night,” and if you thought it was going to get any more straightforward the answer is a resounding no. Even though last season unraveled many of the mysteries it created, this year has given us many and more.
The show’s returned to a non-linear narrative structure, introducing us to the events of the present day with Bernard and then returning us to the past to fill out the rest of the episode. It will be really interested to see if they follow this framing for the rest of the season: opening and closing with 5 to 10 minutes of present events before diving into the past.
Westworld remains incredibly well-written and acted. Ed Harris is as fantastic in this premiere as he was last season, and both Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton remain incredibly compelling as Dolores and Maeve. But Bernard, played by Jeffrey Wright, remains the standout, and if this is a Bernard-heavy season I will not be complaining.
This season has also not strayed away from the deep metaphysical themes either. It definitely seems like one of the major themes this season is going to be artificial life and the singularity, the hosts not just as artificial humans but the next step in humanity itself.
Another major theme we see heavily explored so far is the nature of reality. What makes something real? Human characters often see the park, the roles, and the hosts themselves as not real. Or, as one unfortunate soon-to-be-hanged guest called it, “Just a game.” But to the hosts, it’s everything. It is real, and we see that from Maeve’s relationship to her child, her love for Escaton, Teddy’s love for Dolores and the way Dolores’ talks about Humans – eerily like how Humans talk about Hosts.
We also got our first major clue at what Delos is really after. We learned last season that the park is more than just a park, and now we know it has something to do with logging guests’ DNA. To what end, we don’t know, but it’ll almost certainly be revealed in the coming weeks.
A couple of quick, cool notes:
- Paul Strand, the head of operations, notes the other parks and says that they have search and rescue teams there, our first hint that there are more than just Westworld and Shogunworld.
- Apparently, Westworld is located on an island somewhere near China. This will likely resurface later in the show, but we see that the Chinese military isn’t too crazy about what’s going on there, either.