SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the Westworld Season 1. Proceed with caution.
Westworld is that timey-wimey HBO Western you may or may not have seen coming. Perhaps you watched it live back in 2016, perhaps you binged it later. Either way, there’s probably a lot you don’ t remember — don’t worry — we’re here to help!
Westworld seemed to come out of nowhere. Based on the Michael Crichton film of the same name, the show focuses on a fictional theme park filled with robots. Like the film, the television series tracks the experiences of guests and robots in the Western-themed park. HBO ordered the adaptation from producers JJ Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Lisa Joy (Pushing Daisies, Burn Notice), and Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar) which quickly drew an all-star cast, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and more. With a cast this brilliant and a stellar writing/producing team, it’s no surprise that the show really knocked Season 1 out of the park.
Season 2 premieres this Sunday on HBO. It will pick up from various points in time– after the new storyline coup, and before– through various flashbacks. Most of the cast is returning, as well as newcomers Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine), Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim), and Betty Gabriel (Get Out). With Season 2 right around the corner, let’s revisit some of the show’s biggest shocks and twists.
Time is Not Linear
When Westworld Season 1 first aired, it felt like time was moving in one direction: forwards. However, this was not the case. Multiple timelines were explored through “dreams”, flashbacks, and even cutaways to the past. Both humans and hosts alike experienced these shifts in time, most notably Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard.
The biggest time jump was revealed in the Season 1 finale episode, “The Bicameral Mind,” where the Man in Black revealed to Dolores that many years had passed since she and William first met. William was not her companion on the journey to the end of the maze, William was, in fact, the Man in Black all grown up.
These shifts in time were introduced very subtly at first but began to increase with every episode. Sometimes the past was seen through Maeve’s eyes, like when she saw her daughter die. Sometimes the time shifts were experienced through Dolores’ eyes, like when she recalled her sessions with the real Arnold.
Bernard is a Host
During the first few episodes of Season 1, fans were introduced to Delos employee and behavioral specialist Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). Bernard often interviewed the hosts when they were malfunctioning. As the season progressed, Bernard fell deeper “into the rabbit hole,” like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, where he discovered Charlotte‘s data sabotage and Ford‘s secret host family.
However, Bernard was the one with the biggest secret to keep, that he, himself, was a host. When he discovered this, he was horrified. Especially when he remembered strangling two of his friends and co-workers, Theresa and Elsie. Bernard also found out that he was modeled after the creator of all the hosts, Arnold.
Maeve is Self-Aware
Maeve‘s (Thandie Newton) journey on Westworld has been nothing short of remarkable. The woman who began as a brothel madame has become the leader of a revolution. Her journey to becoming self-aware began with a program update that involved subtle memory recall. Her memories, however, were not subtle, but violent and traumatizing.
She recalled the death of her daughter again and again, which fueled her desire to discover what happened to her daughter. Once she remembered and was awake, she began making changes to her programming. She eventually gave herself the power to control other hosts. She then recruited other hosts and broke out of Delos. However, she decided to return to Westworld in order to find her host daughter.
There’s one small trick with Maeve though: she may have been programmed to leave. Bernard detected that someone else had been programming her impulses to leave Westworld, so she might not be as in control as she thinks she is.
William is the Man in Black
The formidable Man in Black (Ed Harris) terrorized the park for decades in search of the Westworld maze. He found the maze but was not satisfied with the results. Throughout the first season, he was ruthless in his pursuit of it, killing anyone who stood in his path and using anyone he could to achieve his goal.
During the season, it was revealed that the Man in Black was a Delos investor, in fact, he holds the most shares and technically owns Westworld. It was also revealed that in the real world, despite his charity work and philanthropy, his wife committed suicide and his daughter left him. Hence, his desire to spend all his time in the park.
The final twist with his character was exposed in the Season 1 finale, where he told Dolores that he was, in fact, her young love William (Jimmi Simpson). After their first adventure together Dolores was killed and reprogrammed. When he found her again, she didn’t remember him. It was a knife in his heart and he never forgave her for forgetting him.
The Man in Black was shot in the finale, but he didn’t die and will be back for Season 2.
Dolores Killed Ford
Dolores‘ (Evan Rachel Wood) journey during Season 1 was intense. The woman who began as a farm girl turned out to be the villain. And not just the villain in the storyline Ford had written, but the villain in the maze Arnold had written almost 30 years prior.
Dolores turned out to be Arnold’s killer — she then turned out to be Ford’s killer. She was the vile bandit Wyatt, the person with the “higher calling” who needed Teddy‘s (James Marsden) help in killing all of the original hosts.
Dolores’ memory had been wiped so many times she had no idea that her past was so dark. But she did solve Arnold’s puzzle and she did find the center of the maze. Technically she is the most sentient of all the hosts, although Maeve has the greatest understanding of what they are.
For Season 2, Dolores will likely exist in multiple times again. She’ll probably experience flashbacks to younger versions of William/The Man in Black, as well as past times with the real Arnold and his host double Bernard. As for her future, she killed Ford just as all the deactivated hosts were descending upon the shareholders. It’s very possible that she will lead the new host uprising.
Westworld Season 2 premieres on HBO Sunday, April 22.