In addition to running multiple timelines simultaneously, making you wonder who is human who isn’t, Westworld’s biggest narrative trick is conveniently found in its title. Up until now, the entire series has taken place either in the Delos-run amusement park of “Westworld” or behind-the-scenes, with its technical support staff. Anything we’ve learned about the future “real world” has been filtered through this sieve — until now. The second episode of season 2 — “Reunion” — changes all that. We get to see the real world, and the series will never be the same. Spoilers ahead.
Though a lot happens in the relative “present” in the latest episode of Westworld, it’s the bold flashbacks that are easily the most interesting — and jarring. Right at the start of the episode, the story drops us into a moment in Dolores’s past in which she and Arnold (the human version of Jeffrey Wrights’ “Bernard”) are in a real-life city. Where is this city? It’s not totally clear, though if the location of all the Delos parks ends up being in the South China Sea, then maybe this is a future version of Hong Kong?
It’s very possible Westworld will never nail down specifically where in the real world a lot of this is taking place, and it doesn’t really have to. The little hints about the Chinese military are probably just there to suggest that larger forces can shut down everything at a moment’s notice. In other words, Westworld has reminded us that the Hosts and the park will built for distraction and recreation for the very rich. This is something we’ve always known, but now that we see how it all began, the way we look at some of the Hosts — specifically Dolores and Angela — is fundamentally different.
In Season 1, we had no idea that Hosts had been outside of the park, or that they were essentially used as prostitutes to get funding for the park. Though the episode spends a lot of time in the real world, the themes here aren’t light-hearted at all. We’ve now learned Arnold specifically excluded Dolores from being part of a creepy situation in which Logan had sex with a bunch of early Hosts in order to see if the technology was worth investing in. To put it another way, Arnold briefly protected Dolores from robot prostitution.
It’s not a news flash that Westworld is dealing with the concepts of robot prostitutes. In fact, it could be argued that’s like 70 percent what the show is about. The reason it feels different now is because we have now seen those Hosts walking around outside of the park. And we also know that they remember what happened to them, despite the fact their memories have been supposedly erased.
In the relative present, Angela is a “follower of Wyatt,” which means she’s onboard with Dolores’s robot revolution. But, there’s some subtle bitterness between these two now. Angela was the Host who got funding for Westworld through prostitution. Dolores was, however briefly, spared that by Arnold. In the flashback, we hear Ford accusing Arnold of “favoritism” toward Dolores. This is obviously true. But, if Dolores was favored over other Hosts, and some of them are still bitter about it, does it mean they’ll continue to follow her? Or are we headed for a robot civil war this season? - Westworld season 2 airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. eastern on HBO.