Warning: Spoilers for Westworld Season 2's premiere.
Westworld Season 2's premiere was, unsurprisingly, full of new mysteries, but none quite as enticing as the shocking twist at the very end of the episode: two weeks on from Season 1's massacre, the hosts are all dead - at the hands of a malfunctioning/confused Bernard.
We've been waiting sixteen months to go back to Sweetwater, and while the return of Westworld was a pretty standard season opener, it didn't hold back in raising questions that will dominate the next ten weeks. What other park could a tiger come from? Why is Abernathy so important? Can Lee Sizemore get any more pathetic?
But the big mystery we're left with centers on Bernard. He's the real star of the episode, and serves as a window into what Season 2's big questions are going to be. First, though, we need to address how Westworld has changed since we last visited.
Westworld Is Playing With Multiple Timelines Again
Westworld Season 1's big trick was the multiple timeline twist. Throughout the season, we were actually watching events unfold in two different time periods: William, Dolores and Logan in the early days of the park; and everything else decades in the future, with Ed Harris' Man in Black really a grown-up version of Jimmi Simpson. It was a sprawling narrative conceit, one that many fans figured out well ahead of time (much to Jonathan Nolan's chagrin), and given the finale identity twist, most had assumed the show was done with this particular trick.
Not so. Season 2's premiere sees Westworld once again playing with multiple timelines. The bulk of the episode is dealing with the immediate aftermath of Ford's death, with a now conscious Dolores brutally killing human guests with a far less game Teddy, Maeve starting out on a mission to find her daughter, William getting lost in a new mystery - this time "The Door" - and Charlotte trying to get help from company Delos. However, that's all actually happening in "flashback" from two weeks later. Along with an opener with Arnold and Dolores, the episode main is bookmarked by Bernard waking up and being taken to Delos high command as they're hunting the remaining hosts, revealing ahead of time where all the plot threads end up (in a word, poorly).
Westworld Season 2 Has Changed How Hosts Work
Although there's a five-season plan for Westworld, Season 2 has made some adjustments to what's been seen before, specifically in reference to the hosts. In the premiere, we learn that while hosts have brain tissue, their minds are computerized; they're removed and mined for information by Delos both after the massacre and as a matter of course in Charlotte's secret bunker (to monitor guests). The brains are stored in a clear, viscous liquid, which leaks outside of the stable boy attacked by guests. It's also revealed that hosts are connected by a "mesh network"; they can subconsciously communicate with local hosts, which can be applied to create a wide-ranging net.
Biggest of all, though, is the suggestion that gaining consciousness doesn't just open up a host's mind, but somehow gifts them all their lost memories. We already saw this with Maeve in Season 1, but Dolores seems to have also gained full knowledge of her past, while we're led to believe Bernard can recall Arnold's conversations. This provides a striking distinction between these core three characters and the likes of Teddy, who seem to still be following their initial programming.
None of this contradicts what was seen before, but are all peculiar advancements to the mythos. And, considering they're all returned to multiple times, will surely become integral to the season going forward.
Westworld Has A New Sea
The exact location of Westworld was a hotly debated aspect in the first season, with theories ranging from it being underground to on another planet. The Season 2 premiere finally puts paid to a lot of that, with it clearly established that Westworld is on an island, along with at least six other parks.
However, the end of the episode confuses things right up again; there's a brand new body of water the size of sea that's not part of the currents plans. It's presumed to be part of Ford's terraforming from Season 1 which saw him completely redesign Westworld (also referenced by Sizemore to Maeve), but this takes it to an extreme level. The extent of Ford's new narrative is still unfolding, so it's unclear what purpose this has, although its use as a host graveyard implies that what's going on with Bernard is far more manipulated than we're led to believe.