Title: Westworld: “Journey Into Night”
Air Date: April 22, 2018
Check out our review of last year’s season finale of Westworld here.
Westworld was in a bit of a tough spot going into its second season. Much like the town of Sweetwater, the show had turned a significant corner and was dramatically changing its narrative. It managed to do so in quite fantastic fashion, even if it still suffers from some of the same problems the first season did. The premiere of season two, “Journey Into Night,” isn’t going to change your mind about Westworld, but it definitely delivered if you’re already a fan of the show.
The big twist of the first season (although many fans figured it out pretty quick) was the fact that there were multiple timelines happening. William (Jimmi Simpson) was just the younger Man in Black (Ed Harris), and much of the show hinged on the idea of what prior knowledge was carried over from earlier experience. Season two is also operating under multiple timelines, although they seem much closer together than the decades separating the timelines of last season.
On one hand, we have the immediate aftermath of the host uprising, which saw the Man in Black contending with the awakened hosts, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) fleeing for their lives, and Maeve (Thandie Newton), Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), and Lee (Simon Quarterman) teaming up to locate Maeve’s daughter.
The other timeline is dealing with a few weeks after, in which Bernard is discovered on a beach by a surprisingly alive Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and a Delos executive played by Gustaf Skarsgard. Although it’s no mystery that we are dealing with different timelines, what transpires in the space between the two will most likely drive the action of season two.
The other big theme this season appears to be the nature of reality. Multiple conversations were held over the course of “Journey Into Night” about what defines reality, and will further blur the line between guest and host. Maeve and Lee had the most interesting discussion about it when Lee confronted her by saying her daughter wasn’t real, and Maeve threatened to kill him with her “unreal” hands.
So, what all happened in our return to Westworld? Lots of new questions, and not a lot of new answers. It was definitely a table setting episode, preparing the audience for what was in store this season. Bernard and Dolores seem to be the focal points of all these questions, as their past philosophical banter came up multiple times to juxtapose their new tendencies. Bernard is corrupted – he’s leaking clear fluid from his head, cannot stop trembling, and has to steal fluids from another host to continue operating. However, his storylines in tonight’s episode were the most intriguing.
What is Delos doing with Westworld? Charlotte, not entirely willingly, reveals to Bernard that the company has been harvesting DNA from park guests for some unknown reason. In addition, she was attempting to smuggle data out of the park through the Peter Abernathy host, who was Dolores’s (Evan Rachel Wood) father back in the very first episode. However, Peter is now somewhere in the park, and they will need to find him. Charlotte and Bernard’s storyline also introduced us to the unsettling “drone hosts:” the all-white hosts that Delos keeps off the grid. Not even Bernard knew about them until now.
Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) also got quite a bit of time this week, as she is starting to like her newfound bloodlust and he is not at all sure about what happened to his girlfriend. Whether or not Dolores has actually been awakened to the extent that Maeve has, we will have to wait and see. But she seems to know an awful lot about what is happening, and she even tells Teddy she knows how the story ends. Unfortunately, we also see Teddy floating dead in the water at the end of the episode with dozens of other hosts. Evan Rachel Wood continues to knock it out of the park with her nuanced performance; Westworld would not be the same show without her.
Thandie Newton is still absolutely killing it with her portrayal of Maeve as well. Her back and forth with Lee was fantastic to watch, and seeing the two of them try to outfox one another will be a blast. It will still be very interesting to see how much of the host uprising was part of their programming, as we saw with Maeve’s flight from the park at the end of last season, and how much of it is truly free will. Which brings us to the Man in Black.
Ed Harris is a treasure. He is still a totally believable badass, despite being nearly seventy years old, but I don’t know if I can handle another season of Westworld featuring him searching through mysterious clues. At least the little Ford host told him that the search for the “door” is intended for him, as opposed to his search for the “maze” last season. Played by anyone else, the Man in Black’s story would have zero compelling narrative. Luckily, Harris looks the part and plays it just right to keep it interesting. But with so much other interesting philosophy going on, hopefully, his storyline isn’t quite the dominant piece that it was last season.
Many of the mysteries are being well set up, and hopefully, the show can continue to knock them down. What’s happening to Bernard? Where did that tiger come from? On a related note, when are we going to Shogun World?
Verdict: Welcome back to Westworld. Beautifully shot, well acted, and more than a bit confusing, “Journey Into Night” was an excellent return for the series after a sixteen-month hiatus. Hopefully, it can continue its puzzling storylines without getting too bogged down in its own mystery.
- Excellent acting, especially Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton
- Fun and interesting
- Beautifully shot
- May get a bit repetitive