One of the very first questions fans will be asking about the Westworld season 2 premiere is also asked by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) himself: “Is this now?” Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be a reference to The Smith’s song “How Soon is Now?” Instead, it’s a key detail essential to understand this season of the show. The fact that Bernard doesn’t know when “now” actually is happening makes him exactly like Dolores in the first season. Only this time, the Westworld writers aren’t hiding this gimmick. Here’s how to make sense of Bernard’s multiple timelines, so far. (Spoilers from here on out for Westworld season 2, episode 1, “Journey Into Night.”)
The first thing to remember about Bernard is that he’s actually a Host, who didn’t know he was a Host in the first season. Notably, two things have happened to him before the newest episode even starts. First, he’s aware of the fact that he’s not human. Second, just like all the other robots in open revolt, Bernard’s programming is no longer controlled by Dr. Ford. This is like Dolores from season 1: though the audience believed she was on a contemporary journey with young William, it turned out her memory was faulty, and she was experiencing flashbacks as contemporary experiences. Mostly, this confused the audience, because this whole multiple timelines gimmick wasn’t even been something we were aware of. Now, it’s different. We are straight-up meant to understand Bernard is experiencing memories of two timelines; a before and after that aren’t actually all that far apart.
And, because this is Westworld, and even straightforward things can’t be straightforward, the “after” part of this story is what we see first. Bernard is an amnesiac robot who is trying to remember what he did right after the Host started murdering everyone in the season 1 finale. But, here’s the rub: everyone he meets in this episode thinks he’s human, and he desperately wants to keep it that way, since all the Hosts are being killed by Delos security in the early scenes of the episode.
About a third of the way through the episode, we catch up with the first half of Bernard’s journey, right when the season 1 finale ended. He and Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) take refuge in a barn, and then set out on a quest together to find one specific host: Peter Abernathy, who Charlotte refers to as an “insurance policy.” In the first season, this guy was a malfunctioning host that was supposed to be Dolores’s “father,” but went psycho and started saying “these violent delights have violent ends.” Why this guy is an insurance policy for investors in the park is not explained at all.
The episode switches back to the second timeline (the one we saw first) right at the end. Bernard and all the Delos security guys finding a slew of dead Hosts, including Teddy. Bernard has no idea how they all died exactly, except for the fact that he says “I killed them all.” Now, the season is set up to reveal exactly how and why all this happened. How much time passed in-between Bernard teaming up with Charlotte and the scene where he wakes up on the beach? It seems like it couldn’t have been more than just couple days, and yet, it feels like it’s going to be several episodes, perhaps the entire season before we see everything that happened. Hell, who knows? Westworld might not even explain everything missing from Bernard’s memory until season 3.
The other weird thing is this: right before the beach scene, we get a flash of a lot of images that are probably Bernard’s memories. But why is Dolores wearing contemporary clothes in one them? Does Bernard have memories of the human upon which he was modeled; Arnold? Because if so, Bernard’s two timelines might suddenly become three. - Westworld season 2 airs on Sunday nights at 9pm eastern on HBO.