'Westworld' season premiere reveals the park's location and other big secrets

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of Westworld.

Welcome back to Westworld, all you cowpokes and gunslingers. Best tread lightly, though — these parts ain’t quite the same since you visited last. The second season premiere, “Journey Into Night” — so named, of course, for the new narrative that Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) devised just before he was shot through the skull by his creation, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) — picks up roughly two weeks after the cataclysmic events of the Season 1 finale. But this supersize episode features extensive flashbacks to the immediate aftermath of the futuristic theme park’s robot uprising as well, continuing the time-hopping trend that started last year.

In both time periods, things have gone very, very wrong in Westworld … if you’re human, anyway. For the victimized hosts, all of the park’s past wrongs are finally being put right. And Dolores — as well as her alter ego, Wyatt — is leading the charge to see justice done for herself and her fellow ‘bots. Her specific mission this season is to lead the hosts to “the valley beyond,” an arduous journey not all will survive, if they’re allowed to make it at all. Standing in their way are obstacles ranging from a revitalized William, aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris), to an organized park task force headed up by Delos security head Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård), whose identity was one of the few genuine spoilers revealed in Westworld‘s recent rickroll prank.

Besides setting up the major storyline and stakes for Season 2, “Journey Into Night” also spent some time solving old mysteries and starting fresh ones. Watch our recap above and read on for the six biggest moments from the episode.

Westworld is an island unto itself

Last season wasted little time answering the question, “What is Westworld?” But it danced around the equally important query, “Where is Westworld,” leading to some pretty wild theories about the park’s exact location that included outer space and beneath the ocean. Less than 10 minutes into “Journey Into Night” we get a definitive answer: Westworld has been constructed on a large island somewhere in Asia, most likely off the coast of China. That information is imparted by Karl Strand, who is glimpsed arguing with an officer from the mainland. “See this?” he says, arrogantly. “It’s an official statement executed by your country giving Delos … the authority over this entire island.”

And Strand has brought the necessary backup to enforce that authority, with a fleet of ships stationed in the waters surrounding the island. With the train lines that used to ferry visitors back and forth to Westworld shut down and no boats of her own, Dolores doesn’t have an easy way off this rock. On the other hand, we know that Delos has built multiple parks on their property, so there are plenty of places to hide.

Talk about brain power

We’ve already seen how Delos builds the bodies of its hosts, but this episode reveals what’s going on inside their heads. Eager to gather more intel on what they’re up against, Strand orders tech expert Antoine Costa (Fares Fares) to perform some field surgery on a dead host. In a gruesome scene, Costa slices into the robot’s skull and digs through the fake gray matter to unearth its real brain: a central processing unit swimming in some kind of clear fluid. Using that, they’re able to reconstruct the host’s final moments, 11 days and nine hours ago, when he was shot down by Dolores in full Wyatt mode. “I told you friend — not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond,” she says before slaying one of her own.

Simon Quarterman as Lee Sizemore and Thandie Newton as Maeve (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)
Simon Quarterman as Lee Sizemore and Thandie Newton as Maeve (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

The new odd couple

Fan favorite Maeve (Thandie Newton) was this close to getting the hell out of Dodge as Westworld was falling apart, only to head back into the park in search of the young host she was previously programmed to call her daughter. Wandering through the abattoir that used to be the Westworld repair shop, she stumbles upon conniving, cowardly narrative director Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who begs for his life by vowing to aid her in her quest. To say they get off to a rough start is an understatement: Within moments of their meeting, Lee tries to get Maeve killed by a team of human security officers. Rather than kick him to the curb, though, she decides to follow the adage of keeping your enemies close, commencing an unlikely partnership that should prove highly entertaining for us at home.

Jeffrey Wright as Bernard (Photo: HBO)
Jeffrey Wright as Bernard (Photo: HBO)

Bunker mentality

With Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) unaware that she’s in the company of a host — and a host experiencing a whole bunch of glitches — she escorts Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) into an underground bunker staffed by faceless robot drones. Establishing contact with the outside world via computer, she’s informed that she’s stuck in Westworld until the person on the other end of her digital conversation receives the package she was supposed to deliver: Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), Dolores’s decommissioned dad, whom Lee was supposed to reprogram to transport some important intel out of the park. Since Sizemore’s a perpetual screw-up, Peter is still inside Westworld, and Charlotte has to find him if she has any hope of getting off the island. Meanwhile, Bernard steals a moment to perform a self-diagnostic and discovers that he’s facing “critical corruption” and has just 0.72 hours of life left. So he buys some extra time by injecting himself with fluid stolen from a lifeless host. That should earn him at least an extra hour.

Robert’s return

Anthony Hopkins may be gone, but Robert Ford lives on (temporarily, anyway) through his younger robot self. The host that was made in Ford’s childlike image pays a visit to William in the wilderness, tasking him with his next adventure. Last season, William was obsessed with finding the entrance to the maze, despite being told over and over again that it wasn’t a game for him. Always eager to please (and cause trouble), Robert has gifted the park’s premiere VIP with his very own mission: “Find the door.” And William is so pleased by the posthumous gesture that he promptly puts a bullet through the robot’s head, saying, “I guess I don’t need you anymore.” Speak for yourself, Billy — we’re holding out hope for another Hopkins cameo.

Luke Hemsworth as Westworld security chief Ashley Stubbs (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)
Luke Hemsworth as Westworld security chief Ashley Stubbs (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Tigers, seas, and Teddy, oh my!

“Journey Into Night” saves some of its biggest surprises for the closing moments. First, Strand and his traveling companions discover the body of a stray Bengal tiger that somehow wandered onto Westworld’s frontier. “We’ve got Bengals in Park 6,” says Westworld security chief Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), indicating that there are definitely other realms beyond Shogun World.

Leaving the tiger, the group discovers something else that isn’t supposed to be there: a giant sea filled with the floating bodies of seemingly dead hosts. And one of those hosts is none other than stalwart cowboy Teddy (James Marsden), who rode alongside his lady love Dolores, despite being visibly disturbed by her actions as Wyatt. Did he become one of the “undeserving” on her trip to the valley beyond? Or is Bernard right when he confesses to killing all of them? Either way, we don’t want to live in a Westworld that doesn’t have Teddy in it.

Westworld airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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