‘Journey Into Night’ ushers in new ‘Westworld’ era

Season two premiere of HBO’s hit sci-fi drama comes out with a bang

ae-Westworld-CourtesyofHBO

The second season of HBO sci-fi hit "Westworld" promises more of the show's complex plotlines and deep themes.

Courtesy of HBO

The opening images of “Journey Into Night” — the season two premiere of “Westworld” — showcase the aftermath the events at the end of the first season. The amusement park where the wealthiest of the wealthy could live out their violent fantasies has become a warzone where the attractions — the artificially intelligent robotic stewards of the park called “hosts” — have become the leaders. 

The episode kicks off with Westworld executive and secret host Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) waking up on a beach two weeks after the events of the season one finale. Delos, the corporation who owns the park, has set up a military presence inside the park to eliminate all rogue hosts and rescue any humans who are still inside. However, Delos has an ulterior motive. In order to recoup their investment in the park, the shady corporation is smuggling data from the hosts out of the park for an unknown — and presumably nefarious — purpose. 

Bernard goes along with Delos’s plan, but he seems to be having a malfunction in his operating system. Throughout the episode, he has erratic visions of the events that occurred in the two weeks prior to him waking up on the beach. Season one of “Westworld” also toyed with its timeline and portrayed its narrative in a non-linear manner, to great effect. “Journey Into Night” looks to be setting up a similar structure which will surely add a great amount of intrigue to the season’s storyline. 

The hosts rampaging through the park are led by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), a host who has achieved a higher level of consciousness than the others in the park. However, her thought is not 100 percent free. Her character is guided by a program named “Wyatt” who was originally designed by Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) — the founder of Westworld — to be the main antagonist of the park. Wyatt envisions a world where hosts are unrestrained by the limitations placed on them by their creators. He also desires to be free of the borders of Westworld. Wyatt has seemingly come to the realization that there is a world outside of Westworld and the host should inhabit it. This theme of artificially intelligent robots interacting with mankind in the real world has the makings of a fascinating storyline for the show to explore as the season progresses.

As was the case in the first season, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have set up multiple, unpredictable narrative threads which will play out in an intriguing fashion. What is going on in Bernard’s head as he has visions of his past?  What is Dolores/Wyatt’s endgame? What does Delos want with the data from the hosts? What other tricks and games did Ford have planned before his death? 

These questions are the real joy of watching “Westworld.” The show’s masterful storytelling keeps viewers glued to their screens as they evaluate each scene for new details which will help them solve the mysteries of the series. Each episode is constructed with elaborate plot details which connect to elements of past seasons and lead to an incredibly satisfying payoff. 

The way in which “Westworld” deals with complex themes such as humanity and consciousness is brilliant as well. What makes a person a person? If a robot can think and feel in the same way as a human, should we still treat it like a robot? These deep and thought-provoking questions are left up to the viewer to decide. Not many shows on television today delve into such profound philosophical concepts. It is refreshing to watch a show which allows the audience to think for itself and not have every question explained to them in a cut-and-dried answer. 

The purpose of a season premiere is to create intrigue and hook viewers to make them come back for the rest of the season. “Journey Into Night” has achieved this in spades. The eerie final shots of the episode set up a compelling mystery which will keep viewers on the edge of their seat as they wait for it to be solved. Season one of “Westworld” was an absolute blast to watch, and season two is setting up to be more of the same.

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