Bring yourself back online: Welcome back to Westworld.
It’s been nearly a year and a half since the first season of HBO’s series on a robot theme park run amok built a fervent fandom, thanks to a purposefully puzzling plot and uniquely complex characters that just happen to be factory-built.
Whether you’re a new or returning guest, odds are you could use a refresher — and a preview of where things are headed. You don’t want to tune in Sunday thinking, “It doesn’t look like anything to me,” do you?
Looking back on Season 1 of 'Westworld'
Here’s where we left our main hosts and guests:
Dolores: Once the simple rancher’s daughter, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) quickly began to question the nature of her reality and move toward consciousness. Viewers saw this journey into “the maze” unfold — as later revealed — over three periods spanning more than three decades. With a final push from the park’s enigmatic creator, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), she seized her own narrative and led a massacre of Westworld executives at a gala.
Maeve: The former madam of a robo-brothel, Maeve (Thandie Newton) also unraveled her reality and, once she did, gave herself a hell of a software upgrade. But after wreaking havoc on the park’s inner workings, she broke her programming once and for all and went in search of a daughter she had in a previous park storyline.
Bernard: Originally Ford’s right-hand man, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) learned that he was a host himself, built by Ford to emulate his old partner, who died decades prior in another revolt by Dolores. Bernard ended Season 1 a witness to Dolores’ latest uprising — but not quite part of it.
The Man in Black: In a major twist, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) was revealed as the older, current version of William (Jimmi Simpson), seen galavanting with Dolores in flashbacks. Over the course of his first trip in the park, young William shed his naiveté for brutality, shaping his future as an executive of the company who runs Westworld. In his sinister Man in Black form, he returned seeking one bloody goal — a game where the hosts were free, the stakes real — and succeeded.
Looking forward to Season 2
In its first few episodes, Season 2 revels in the chaos of hosts' revolt. Unleashed and self-aware, Dolores leads her minions in a fight to “take this world.” But the corporation behind Westworld, led on the ground by Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), won’t make things easy. Dolores’ violent alter-ego “Wyatt” shapes her strategy, but don’t expect it to make her many friends.
While Maeve herself might be wary of Dolores’ tactics, she’s too busy searching for her daughter, wherever that takes her (a whole new world?). As in last season, her story may prove more compelling than anybody’s — and at least a couple scenes are nothing short of breathtaking. Another compelling story line is Bernard’s struggle to discern the park’s true purpose.
All the while, the Man in Black is adjusting to the park’s new reality and learning that Ford wasn’t finished with him.
Westworld itself has become self-aware: Season 2 doesn’t scrimp on timelines, puzzles or twists, but the show knows its heart lies with its rich characters. Their journeys are beautifully presented — literally and thematically — crafting a story greater than just bots gone wild.
Thankfully, it’s also quite fun. Like our main hosts, Westworld is learning and evolving. Where that leads is yet to be seen.
Westworld welcomes us back into the park Sunday at 8 p.m. on HBO.
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