The first season of Westworld was superb television to watch. The technical quality of it was undeniable and the themes that were explored in the mysterious narrative really made the entire season an enjoyable watch, even in its more slower moments. As you can imagine, the hype for Season 2 of Westworld was quite high and I was excited to come back to this show, especially as we have had to wait some time for it to return.
However, the wait is now over and ‘Journey Into Night’ was the episode which kicked off this second season of a television series that HBO is really pushing to become one of its leading lights. This is particularly the case when you consider that Game of Thrones is coming to the end and the void left by its end needs to be filled by one or more shows on the scale of Westworld.
My Thoughts On ‘Journey Into Night’
Sometimes, the first episode in a new season of television can be the weakest episode of that season. If this is the case with ‘Journey Into Night’, then we are in store for a phenomenal season of Westworld. I loved this episode. From its very first scene, it was compelling. Certainly, an episode of Westworld which begins with a past conversation between Bernard/Arnold and Dolores is a fantastic way to start this second season.
I say Bernard/Arnold because I am not sure whether that conversation took place in the distant past when Arnold was still alive or, more likely, with Bernard in the more recent past. Either way, it was a fascinating scene which showcased how Westworld is a cut above the overwhelming majority of TV shows currently airing. The acting and dialogue between Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood in this scene alone was mesmerising and, for me, it foreshadowed what is to come in Season 2.
Indeed, Bernard/Arnold stated that he was frightened about what Dolores might become and what path she will take. Obviously, we have seen already what Dolores is capable of and this scene may have indicated that much worse is in store. Another subtle element of this scene that I appreciated was how the framing was different compared to the rest of ‘Journey Into Night’.
After this scene, we saw flash scenes of both Bernard and Dolores. Now, I did not have the opportunity to watch the first season of Westworld again before Season 2 began. I was able to recognise that some of these flash scenes were from Season 1 but others were not as recognisable which make me believe that we got glimpses of the future. However, I understand that I may be completely wrong about this.
Still, what was completely apparent about ‘Journey Into Night’ is that, at least for now, we are following two timelines in Season 2 of Westworld. One of them takes place in the immediate aftermath of the death of Robert Ford at the end of Season 1 and the other is set around two weeks later where the humans are trying to regain control of the park. What we saw in the latter timeline was at the beginning and the end of ‘Journey Into Night’ so the real meat of this episode took place right after Ford’s death.
The Hosts Take Control After Ford’s Death
In this time period, the Hosts are in total control of the park and they have wiped out almost all the Delos board members with only a few surviving the massacre that began with Robert Ford’s death. As expected, the Man in Black/William is having a great time with this new reality. It was what he wanted all along as we saw in Season 1 of Westworld and, in ‘Journey Into Night’, he had a great discussion with the young Robert Ford Host where he learns that an entirely new game solely for him has just begun.
Bernard and Charlotte are together and they try to deal with the repercussions of Ford’s death. They eventually find safety and learn that they have to find Peter Abernathy, the Host who played Dolores’ father in Season 1, and give him to Delos to secure help and extraction from the park. Maeve has to go on a journey of her own to find her daughter and Dolores, with the bemused help of Teddy, is charting her own course and wishes to go beyond the park and take control of the human world.
Clearly, a lot of things are about to go down in Season 2 of Westworld given what has been set up in ‘Journey Into Night’ and I loved where our characters are at in this timeline. It has established some exciting narratives and I am fascinated to see what unravels in this timeline going forward.
Bernard + The Military Team
In the time period that takes place two weeks after Ford’s death, Bernard wakes up on a beach with water rising around him which establishes a good amount of mystery about how and why this happened, especially when one thinks about where he was in the other timeline with Charlotte. Additionally, it was a visual which linked back to the very first scene of the episode where he described a dream he had to Dolores that was exactly like the situation he found himself in at that moment.
He encounters a human military team from Delos who, as I said earlier, are attempting to take back control of the park from the Hosts. Bernard eventually leads them to a lake of dead Hosts who he claims to have killed. To see where Bernard starts in one timeline and then get to the place where he was in the other is going to be fascinating to experience.
My Final Thoughts On ‘Journey Into Night’
In both timelines, the outstanding quality of this show is still clear to see from a technical perspective. From a storytelling viewpoint, Westworld continues to explore themes such as existence, consciousness and meaning in a deep and layered way. ‘Journey Into Night’ did a tremendous job at reintroducing us to these themes as well as providing a great platform for the characters, and the story they are in, to flourish as Season 2 progresses from episode to episode.