With the hotly anticipated second season of Westworld fast-approaching, now is the perfect time to provide you lovely (jubbly) people with a recap—along with a review of the first season.
EP.1 The Original
Westworld has been thriving for over 30 years but a recent firmware update has produced a significant amount of malfunctions across The Hosts – the park’s android cast and crew. These malfunctions were initially seen as mere glitches until more and more Hosts began to show symptoms. Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) Delos’ head of development battles with Theresa, Westworld’s head of operations on whether or not infected Hosts should be quarantined or investigated due the implied danger – with Bernard edging Theresa out on the promise that The Hosts inability to hurt any living being.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and the heroic young Teddy (James Marsden) undergo a long series of trials and tribulations as they both continually live their lives as Hosts, constantly repeating the same programming cycles – including one heartbreaking night of torture at the hands of the dark and mysterious sadist The Man in Black (Ed Harris) as he returns to the park an old man, hell-bent on fulfilling his quest to solve the meaning of Westworld’s elusive “Maze” and what he believes to be his final problem.
As time goes on, more and more Hosts succumb to these glitches, including Dolores herself as she begins to experience haunting memories of her time serving the depraved needs of the park’s guests – with her most recent encounter with The Man in Black being the most devastating of these memories.
The situation comes to a head when a particularly bothersome malfunction befalls Dolores’s father, Peter, as his charming back-country personality is replaced by the scowling personality of Shakespeare’s King Lear. He whispers the words “these violent delights have violent ends” into his daughter’s ear before he is carted away by Delos. He later warns the Park’s CEO Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) of the great dangers that are about to head their way. This is taken in jest by Ford as he reveals that Hosts like Peter have been used in many productions over the years — including productions of Shakespeare.
The episode ends with Dolores once again repeating her daily programming cycle. She begins by speaking to her would-be father on the usual way before a sudden change comes in the form of Dolores mindlessly killing a fly that had made its way onto her person.
We see the introduction of first-time guest William (Jimmi Simpson) after he is dragged there by his friend and long-time Westworld patron Logan (Ben Barnes.) Logan is adamant that he wants to show William a “good time” but it isn’t yet clear whether or not this will benefit William or Logan himself. William is sceptical about the park; he sees through the initial polished sheen of the recreated-old-west environment as it plays with his soul. Logan indulges his darkest fantasies all-while making sure William abides by his chosen path whenever a meandering host begs for his attention.
The Man in Black tracks down a known fugitive by the name of Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) and prevents his execution in order to recruit him for his own needs; and by recruit, I mean uses the force of his steed to drag him across the floor. The Man in Black then interrogates Lawrence by threatening to kill his family which leads to the death of Lawrence’s wife. This happens until Lawrence’s daughter breaks her cycle and provides The Man in Black a clue to where his next destination lies.
Dolores continues to be plagued by visions of her past cycles until Maeve (Thandie Newton) approaches to calm her down. Just as Dolores starts to revert back, she whispers the phrase “These violent delights have violent ends” into Maeve’s ear causing her to relive memories of her previous role in the park as a mother being attacked and killed by “angry Natives.”
The staff catches on to Maeve’s odd behaviour and, after being notified of the Madam’s slump in popularity, decide to decommission her until they are stopped by Elsie – who then reconfigures Maeve’s setting to make her more effective out in the world.
A drunken ruckus breaks out upon Maeve’s return and she and Teddy are gunned down by a group of guests but just as Maeve’s starts to dream of her daughter again, she mistakenly wakes up inside The Delos treatment facility beneath the park. She escapes after threatening two bumbling technicians with a scalpel and roams the facility touring the many rooms found within until she is subdued and out back under.
Elsie and Bernard discuss the benefits of sending Dolores back into the park after being exposed to her father. Bernard states that Dolores has been acting fine and gives the “ok”, motivated by his fascination with Dolores as a subject.
Lee Sizemore, Westworld’s foul-mouthed lead story writer (played by Simon Quarterman) pitches an idea for a new narrative to Ford and the other heads wherein each guest involved will have to defend themselves from a hoard of angry Natives. This is met with contempt from Ford, who then decides to pitch a narrative of his own.
Ford and Bernard roam the desert above the facility until they gaze upon the sight of a broken and buried chapel out in the wilderness. Ford informs Bernard that construction will begin on the new narrative immediately.
Ep.3 The Stray
William experiences his first action scene after a dispute escalated into a hostage situation right in the middle of town. He takes advantage of his position and fires upon the hostage takers, killing them instantly. He saves the life of Clementine: Maeve’s right-hand Madam, but refuses her offer of passion stating that he is still loyal to someone back home.
Meanwhile Teddy teaches Dolores how to shoot but her programming refuses to let her even pull the trigger. This rocks Dolores into asking Teddy into leaving town with her but Teddy passes the event off as a part of Dolores’ kind nature while his programming has him commit to staying in Sweetwater.
Ford gives a new narrative for Teddy, a narrative that also provides Teddy with his first back-story, in which he is a former Union soldier on the hunt for Wyatt, a disgraced Union Army Sergeant. Teddy enacts this new narrative with a group of guests but is ambushed and taken by those said to be working for Wyatt.
Theresa confronts Bernard regarding the chaos that is coming from Ford’s new-found spontaneity. Bernard then promises to speak to Ford himself before being called up by Elsie while she inspects a Host called “Rebus” for signs that he might have contracted strands of the virus from his killer: Walter (Steve Ogg.) Walter had been commissioned after firing upon several Hosts in what can only be described as “revenge killings” due to their roles in some of Walter’s previous storylines. Walter is then heard having a conversion with someone called “ Arnold.”
Bernard confronts Ford about his behaviour and asks who Walter might have been talking to. Ford then gives Bernard the details of his old partner by the name of Arnold, a recluse obsessed with The Hosts and the co-founder of Westworld. Ford states that Arnold went mad and died in the park. Shortly after this, Bernard meets Dolores again behind the scenes. He asks her a series of philosophical questions before giving her a copy of Alice in Wonderland, the favourite book of his late son.
Elsie detects a stray on the monitors and sets out to retrieve it while being accompanied by Delos’ very own action hero/ security guard Ashley (played by Luke Hemsworth: the baby-headed Hemsworth Prime with the caved in face.)They get the drop on The Host but Ashley is quickly subdued by it before turning on Elsie. Instead of harming Elsie, The Host then takes a rock to his own head, bludgeoning itself to death. Dolores returns to her homestead to find her parents lying dead on the floor. She is then dragged across the floor by the newly-reinserted Rebus into the adjacent barn. As they struggle through the door, Dolores takes Rebus’ six-shooter and blows him through the barn door. She then flees the homestead into the arms of William.
Ep.4 Dissonance Theory
Dolores is a changed woman. The episode opens with her revealing the details of the event with Rebus to Bernard behind the scenes. Bernard offers to ease her pain by wiping her memories but she refuses, stating that those memories are all she has left of her family. Bernard issues her the challenge of The Maze, promising that Dolores will be “free” if she succeeds.
Dolores wakes up surrounded by William’s posse. William and Logan argue about what to do with her and they settle on having The Host accompany them on their mission to a nearby Mexican Village. When they arrive, Dolores wanders off while stuck in an applied analepsys until she is awakened by the orders of a stranger. The stranger reveals himself to be a park staff member sent to apprehend her in order to help her complete her programmed loop until William steps in and ushers him away.
The Man in Black and Lawrence force their way into a gang run by The Maze’s next clue, a woman sporting a blood-red tattoo of a snake. While camping, The Man in Black reveals that he knew Arnold back in the day and that he was the man who created Westworld – and that he was on a journey to find its ending. The gang happen upon an injured Teddy, tied to a tree. The Man in Black decides to untie Teddy and carry him along the way.
Theresa tasks The QA department to head the investigation of the glitches due to her lack of faith in Elsie and her team. She then meets with Ford at his homestead in an attempt to voice her concerns. Ford reminds Theresa how expendable she is and showcases the full extent of his power in order to intimidate her. Ford tells Theresa that he is aware of her affair with Bernard and that The Board is already on his side regarding the park’s new narrative.
Maeve is still being plagued by awful dreams — this time in the form of her being shot by an angry Native. She sees the figure of The Cleaners in the form of a doll carried by one of The Natives as they pass by and she takes it. She then waits for the bandit Hector to come to town on a raid and pressures him into giving information about The Doll to her before having him reach into her gut for evidence of the shooting. He successfully retrieves a bullet from her wound and we close as they’re both gunned down by one of Sweetwater’s Lawmen.
Ford reminisces with an aged Host about his past, choosing to focus on a story so dark that it almost needs to be told lest it drive the thinker insane but he is met with the same disappointing response when The Host follows its programming to the letter. Ford then turns his sights on Dolores, who then also disappoints him by following her code. He gives up and dismisses her. After Ford leaves, Dolores starts conversing with an unknown entity reconfirming Ford’s obliviousness.
Lawrence and The Man in Black continue on their journey, this time with a dying Teddy in tow. The Man in Black then kills Lawrence and drains a significant amount of his blood before riding away.
Elsie discovers something alarming inside the body of the self-bludgeoned Host: a satellite transmitter. She takes her findings to Bernard and they both vow to investigate who has been smuggling data out of the park.
Teddy and The Man in Black arrive at a local Tavern and are greeted by Ford who then interrogates The Man in Black for answers as to just what he is attempting. The Man in Black asks Ford if he is going to prevent him from trying to accomplish his goal but Ford refuses.
William, Logan and Dolores find the town of Pariah with the help of a kidnapped Bandit by the name of Slim. Pariah is one of Westworld’s shadier environments that plays host to all manner of activities from black-hat missions to decadent sex parties. Slim points the trio in the direction of Pariah’s leader: El Lazo, who is revealed to be the identity of Lawrence’s Host. El Lazo convinces Dolores and Co to help him retrieve a bounty of Nitro-glycerine from The Union in order to give it to a group of disgraced former-Confederates whom he just refers to as “The Confederales.”
The mission goes awry when the Union ambush turns to murder after Logan provokes a couple of the Union officers. They gun down the unarmed soldiers in the middle of the road – causing the death of Slim in the process. When they return, William and Logan fall out and Dolores convinces William to leave Pariah with her. El Lazo double crosses both parties and takes the Nitro-Glycerine for himself. William leaves Logan as The Confederales take their revenge and he and Dolores catch up to El Lazo who – after initially being threatened – has no choice but to sit with the pair as his train heads for pastures new. Dolores sees the image of The Maze on the box of Nitro-Glycerine.
In the labs, one of the technicians, Felix(Leonardo Nam), continues his secret hobby of trying to reanimate a dead bird that he has been keeping hidden from his partner until he is confronted by an angry and confused Maeve.
Ep.6 The Adversary
The Man in Black and Teddy continue on their journey by heading to Pariah – the place that we learned was home to a clue in the form of El Lazo’s betrayal. The two run into a blockade of Union soldiers and they decide to sneak past in disguise. One of the soldiers recognises Teddy and they are taken prisoner. Teddy is branded with a symbol of The Maze because the soldiers believe that he is an accomplice of Wyatt’s. This causes Teddy to think back to one of his old storylines wherein he and Wyatt gun down their own unit. Teddy breaks free and massacres the Union soldiers with a nearby Gatling Gun.
Theresa questions a depressed Lee at the company pool as he attempts to drink his sorrows away after being embarrassed and overruled by Ford. She then informs Bernard that she has no choice but to leave him due to Ford’s acknowledgement of the affair.
Felix and Maeve begin to talk until she malfunctions due to being shows too much information. Felix uses his acquired reanimating techniques to bring her back and they then both head on a tour around the facility.
Bernard tracks the recorded movements of The Stray Host. In the process of doing this, he discovers that the park has a number of unregistered Hosts living in Section 17. Upon arriving at Section 17, Bernard finds a small family of Hosts, who then threaten to kill him. He is saved by Ford who then explains that they “ghosts.”
Elsie discovers that Theresa is responsible for siphoning data out of the park using the satellite receiver found in the stray Host. She then discovers that Arnold has also been using the receiver to program the park’s Gen 1 Hosts but is taken by an unknown assailant before she can act further.
While surveying land for his new narrative, Dr. Ford comes across the symbol of The Maze carved on a table. He goes through Arnold’s old materials and finds a sketch of the symbol. He then checks in on his host family and finds the family dog dead. He interrogates young Robert, the child host, who lies that the dog died naturally. Ford fails to believe the story and asks the young Host if he killed the dog. The boy then says that Arnold told him to put the dog out of its misery.
Meanwhile, Maeve and Felix are discovered together by his partner, Sylvester ( played by the wonderfully named Ptolemy Slocum), who threatens to tell the management staff. Maeve takes Sylvester at knife-point and uses the two engineers to boost her stats.
EPISODE 7 – Trompe O’Eil
We discover that Theresa is working with Delos’ Board of Directors as they enact their plan of siphoning out Dr. Ford and Arnold’s precious code in order to safely force Ford into retiring.
Dolores and William travel with El Lazo through the dangerous territory of The Ghost Nation Tribe. William informs a smitten Dolores that he cannot be with her due to having a life at home – as well as a fiancé awaiting his return. This sends Dolores into a heartbroken state and she flees to the next cabin. William succumbs to his feelings, stating that his confession was a list of things he no longer feels are real. They both embrace and make sweet, pasty love before the train rolls into the station. The following morning they both inspect a drawing of Dolores’s homeland that she painted in her spare time aboard the train. The train is ambushed by The Confederales and the three escape behind an explosive diversion implemented by El Lazo.
Maeve toys with Clementine’s mind to see how she will react after going off script. This breaks her friend and Delos’s cleaners take Clementine back to Engineering and Maeve commits suicide while in pursuit.
William, Dolores and El Lazo arrive at the place in Dolores’ drawing and just before they part ways with El Lazo, he warns them that no person has ever returned from the journey they’re about to take.
Theresa enacts the plan and uses Clementine as a guinea pig in order to make the case for Ford’s retirement: Clementine is beaten by another Host until she becomes violent and insubordinate. Clementine turns on Ashley but he guns her down before she can lay a hand on him. After witnessing this act of collusion, Bernard is subsequently fired by Theresa.
Maeve arrives at the lab and witnesses Clementine being officially “retired” from duty. She then threatens Felix and Sylvester into helper her escape the park stating that survival in Westworld is “just another loop.”
Bernard catches up with Theresa and after revealing his knowledge of her collusion, recruits her to help investigate Ford. He takes her to the secret cottage that remained in Section 17 but discovers it ransacked and devoid of all life. Theresa opens the door to the next room; a door that Bernard fails to identify. They emerge inside a secret lab wherein they find an undocumented machine designed to build Hosts as well as several blueprints for some early prototypes, including one that is identical to Bernard. Theresa shows Bernard but he doesn’t react. Ford then appears from behind and reveals that Bernard is in fact a Host controlled by him. Ford relishes his victory before having Bernard kill Theresa.
Ep.8 Trace Decay
Ford orders Bernard to clean up any evidence left behind from his relationship with Theresa and promises to remove any pain and anguish from his mind when after he has returned. They compile a fake accident report and present it to Charlotte Hale: Delos’ Board Rep (Tessa Thompson.) Theresa’s tempering is also revealed which forces Charlotte to reinstate Bernard as head of Behaviour. Before having the pain removed, Bernard asks Ford if he had ever made him harm anyone in the past to which Ford replies with “no.” It’s then revealed via a flashback that Bernard had a hand in Elsie’s disappearance
Charlotte recruits Lee to help her smuggle Ford’s code out of the park by uploading it into the memory banks of Peter Abernathy and programming his escape.
Teddy and The Man in Black continue on their journey until they stumble upon Angela, the park’s golden-haired host greeter, tied up and unconscious. The two are then attacked by one of Wyatt’s followers dressed in a bull-like disguise. They fight until they The Man in Black bests the large fiend by choking him to death. The imagery conveyed by this action causes Teddy to remember The Man in Black dragging Dolores into her barn. He then knocks The Man in Black out cold.
William and Dolores continue their journey, where they happen upon a litter of dead Confederales. One of the younger soldiers wakes up and informs the pair that Logan (now a full-fledged member of The Confederales) had informed them on the train’s whereabouts. Dolores is once-again plagued by memories of her past and her sudden flashbacks indicate that she had once killed a town full of innocent people and that this journey was all the doing of Arnold. The two leave the wounded soldier, at which point they are confronted by Logan and The Confederales.
Maeve orders Sylvester and Felix to grant her administrative privileges. Maeve acknowledges the explosive fail-safe that every Host has inserted into their spine in order to prevent them escaping and orders that they remove it immediately. While offline, Sylvester suggests that they kill Maeve once and for all so they can avoid any incidents until Maeve leaps up and incapacitates the paranoid technician. Felix grants Maeve Administrative Privileges and returns her to Sweetwater, wherein she lives out the following day bending the other Hosts to her will. Just as she begins to execute her plan, of leaving the park, she flashes back to the point in which her and her daughter were killed and accidentally kills Clementine’s replacement. She is chased back to her home by the park’s staff and taken away to be investigated.
Teddy interrogates The Man in Black regarding Dolores’ whereabouts but instead of revealing her location, The Man in Black informs Teddy of his life before his trip to Westworld wherein his real life had been one of pain and suffering – so much that it had lead to the death of his wife and the destruction of his family. The Man reveals that he was the one who orchestrated the death of Maeve and her daughter. Angela convinces Teddy to kill him but Teddy fails to pull the trigger due to his programming. Angela stabs Teddy in the back and a group of Wyatt’s followers then emerge from the woods.
Ep.9 The Well-Tempered Clavier
Bernard wakes Maeve up after being taken away by the park’s staff to find Bernard sitting in front of her. He asks her a series of questions while she behaves like a normal Host until he finds that she has been granted administrative privileges. Maeve freezes Bernard and informs him that he is a Host – like her. She tells him to “find the whole truth” and makes him approve her reinstatement back to the park.
We find William and Dolores tied up at a Confederado camp and they are interrogated by Logan. Dolores – after having the contents of her robotic self shown in jest to William – cuts Logan in the face and escapes. With the allure being broken, William returns to his normality and makes amends with Logan. They drink the night away. Logan wakes up surrounded by the mutilated corpses of the other Confederales. He then looks over to see William sitting there clutching a large knife. William vows to find Dolores again and tells Logan that he will be the one who helps him do this.
Teddy recalls his true past after Angela brings it to the forefront of his mind wherein he and Wyatt are shown killing most of Angela’s old village. Angela tells Teddy that he isn’t ready to be one of Wyatt’s followers and stabs him in the gut with a knife. Her final words to Teddy awaken the final clue of the Maze. She turns to The Man in Black and knocks him out where he then wakes up, his neck surrounded by a tight rope leading right to his trusty steed. He manages to grabs the knife from Teddy’s corpse and cut himself down. Before he sets off to the location of the final clue, he is surprised by Charlotte – who then asks for his vote in ushering out Ford. He agrees and rides away.
Ashley is ambushed by warriors of the Ghost Nation Gang while out investigating an abandoned section of the park after finding the signal to Elsie’s tablet.
Dolores returns to the village of Escalante and enters the nearby church. She walks through a crowd of emotional villagers before entering the confession box. She closes the door and is taken behind the scenes to the location of Bernard’s interview. She sits on the chair and Bernard comes into the room. She breaks down and begs him for help, but Bernard refuses and states that he is only an illusion. Dolores acknowledges that this is because she is the one who killed Arnold. She returns back to the church and the door swings open. She asks for William, by name, and is greeted by The Man in Black.
Bernard confronts Dr. Ford and, at gunpoint, forces him to restore all of the memories from his previous builds. Bernard uses this new found knowledge to shift through his motivational story and breaks free of its curse. He vows to leave the park and take all of the Hosts with him. Ford denies Bernard his ambition, cracks into his mainframe and forces him to commit suicide.
Ep.10 The Bicameral Mind
The Man in Black interrogates Dolores on the whereabouts of the centre of the Maze but Dolores has nothing to reveal but a child’s maze toy found inside her mock grave. Dolores flashes back to her own creation. Shortly after the rest of the Hosts were created, Arnold programs Dolores to kill them and to kill him during the climax of his child’s favourite song. The Man in Black becomes angered and starts to beat her. She mocks his puerile ways and tells him that William is on his way and he will save her. The Man in Black laughs and tells Dolores the story of a William he once knew — during which, he reveals himself to be William and that he has watched her relive the same loop year after year after succumbing to his own darkest desires.
The Man in Black (William) stabs Dolores after she floors him and before he has a chance to finish her off, Teddy rides in and guns him down. Teddy takes Dolores away to “the place where the mountains meet the sea.” After they arrive, they both declare their love for one another and freeze whereby a set of floodlights illuminate the ground and the roaring of applause can be heard: Teddy’s heroic act had been Ford’s narrative for him all along. Ford addresses the crowd and shoes them away stating that there would be a party late in the evening. He then has Teddy and Dolores taken to the lab to be repaired.
Maeve enlists Hector and Armistice to help aid her in escaping the facility – along with Felix. They remove many of the park’s security measures and head down to cold storage wherein they come across the corpse of Bernard. Felix brings Bernard back to life and Maeve informs him of her plans. Bernard dismisses then, stating that her actions have been a part of her narrative all along. Maeve ignores this, kisses Clementine on the forehead and leaves for the exit. Many of the park’s stations – including the control centre – shut down prompting armed security guards to flood the scene. Armistice accidentally traps her arm in an automatic door while Hector gives his life in order to aid Maeve and Felix’s escape. During the elevator ride, Felix provides Maeve with the information on where her daughter is located. She labels her daughter a part of the foundations, thanks Felix and continues on her way.
Ford reawakens Dolores in Arnold’s lab in the presence of Bernard. Bernard accuses Ford of playing God by reverting each Host back to their old state whenever they show signs of consciousness but Ford denies this and informs his old friend that he has been helping The Hosts all alone. – seeing them as Humanity’s one true successor. He then reveals that Dolores is in fact the elusive Wyatt all along. He presents her gun and says that the rest “is up to her.”
During the festivities, Ford addresses the park’s board – including a besuited and bored William – still in black. William drowns his sorrows in bourbon and walks the bottle to Dolores’s grave. Dolores finds her consciousness after finding her own voice; she then grabs her gun and walks towards the party. Ford explains his plans facetiously and plays Bernard’s son’s favourite song on a nearby record player as Dolores slowly walks towards him. William continues to drown his sorrows when all of a sudden a small army of Wyatt’s followers steps out of the darkness. Lee walks down to cold storage in order to retrieve Peter Abernathy’s body but the freezers are revealed to be empty. Dolores shoots Ford in the back of the head and the board members run for their lives. An echo of gunfire follows the initial shot and William takes one in the shoulder. Teddy watches in horror as Dolores/Wyatt and Co’ continue to fire on the crowd.
We are left with an end credits sting of Armistice, still alive. She escapes from the door by breaking off her arm, smirking and charging at the rest of the security guards armed with a knife.
Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have crafted a beautiful, dark and intoxicating milieu in Westworld. However, the excellent world building never overshadows the denizens of the park. There are no characters to root for. There are no characters to root against; every character is perfectly developed enough to be valued all-while providing enough intrigue to satisfy those awaiting the show’s return. Nolan’s penchant for telling cold, cerebral non-linear stories melds perfectly with Joy’s ability to pin point a character’s vulnerabilities.
First and foremost, Westworld is a show about evolution, in that humanity has created a self-sustaining organism that has the potential to rid the world of any human scourge without much trouble – a premise that is explored far more deeply here than in the 1973 movie upon which the series is based. Thankfully Westworld more than matches its big ideas with its impressive, cinematic visuals, as it is one of the few TV shows shot in 35mm. The cast, which includes Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris and Sir Anthony Hopkins are equally magnificent.
No, it may not be the light, adventure filled fare that audiences may have expected – although there are plenty of shoot outs – but Westworld is undoubtedly a class act!