The ‘Westworld’ Confusion Index is your guide to what we know, what we kind of know, and what we don’t know about Westworld, one of television’s more confusing shows. We will make mistakes, surely, because we rarely know what is happening or why (and whenever we think we’ve figured it out, they go and change it on us), but we will try to have at least as many jokes as mistakes. This is the best we can offer. Here we go.
What We Know
Dolores is a fancy assassin on a mission
The premiere wasted very little time getting into it all, at least as far as it came to having Dolores skinny dip in a billionaire’s pool, take over his house’s AI system, whup on him for bit, force him to give her access to classified stuff from the big AI company he sold, then watch him swing a golf club at her with bad intentions, miss when she disappeared into thin air, and smash his head into the pool. Really setting the tone from the start. A tone it continued throughout the premiere, as Dolores seduced failsons and brushed off creeps at parties and altogether behaved like an icy high-class assassin, more of a character in a John Wick movie than the sweet rancher’s daughter she was when we met her back in season one.
Which is fine! It’s good, even. It’s a little more straightforward so far and it features presto-change-o outfit swaps, and elaborate ruses that involve getting captured on purpose and faking unconsciousness before waking up and massacring goons, and homicide-by-vehicle.
I do realize how weird it is to describe something as “more straightforward” in the very same sentence I mentioned Dolores letting herself get tased and kidnapped so she could turn the tables and replace the one menacing AI executive with a robot that will do her bidding. I think that says more about what the show was and has been (and could be again going forward), with all its timeline-shifting and weird ventures to robot heaven. There’s still a lot going on. Dolores appears to have a plan going that involves taking over a massively powerful AI core that determines and/or predicts the course of action for every living human, which one assumes would be bad for the living, especially considering the bloodbath she’s already creating without it.
We’ll have to see how this all plays out before we can really make a judgment one way or the other, but for now, I’d just like to congratulate Evan Rachel Wood on getting to play a cool and evil murderess who rides motorcycles while wearing cocktail dresses after two seasons of galloping around a computerized tundra on a horse. Has to be way more fun. Good for her.
Aaron Paul was born to play depressed slackers who do crimes on the side
Let’s tick off some things we know so far about Caleb, the new character on the show who is played by Aaron Paul:
- Military veteran
- Works construction with a robot friend that he eats lunch with
- Involved in some sort of therapy/research program that includes getting fake phone calls loaded with propaganda from a friend who died in battle
- Has a mom who is suffering from what appears to be dementia and is at risk of getting dumped into a state-run facility
- Does crimes at night for extra cash, all of which comes from an app called RICO that puts jobs up for people to take and features an attractive underdressed woman in a bra and a ski mask saying “Make money, motherfucker” whenever you log in
- Doesn’t do “personals”
- Looking for something or someone “real”
That last thing is going to get really weird considering the episode ended with him clutching a bloody Dolores in a tunnel after her shootout. One can foresee a future where he too, like Liam the Failson, believes she’s a captivating human and falls in love with her as she does… whatever it is she is doing. He was holding her like she was a damsel in distress, which she used to be every day and is very much not anymore. It’s a whole thing. I wonder what poor dumb Teddy would think of it all.
This show still looks cool as hell
Say what you will about Westworld and its figurative and occasionally literal mazes, but the show has always been stunning to look at, in a bunch of different ways. It started with sweeping views of an artificial Wild West and sci-fi looks at impressive tech and the facilities that produce it. Now we’ve got futuristic glider planes and self-chauffeuring cars and driverless motorcycles that respond to commands like a well-trained horse. The visuals in all of it are mesmerizing. I mean, look at that.
The jury is still way out on if any of this will work or live up to the action-packed table-setting of the first hour, but even if it stalls out after a few episodes it should still be a blast to look at every week. That has to count for something.
What We Kind Of Know
The plan is already underway, kind of, somehow
When we left off at the end of last season, Dolores was in the body of a robot Charlotte after Charlotte died, and she was fleeing the Delos compound with a bunch of robot brains. Now, Charlotte — presumably a robot, although we don’t know which robot’s program is inside her head — is running Delos and pushing to get the parks open again to capitalize on the danger of a real-life mass murder (it was just employees and the board, she says, in a hilariously cold tone). And Bernard — definitely a robot, still — was out on some farm hiding out as a guy named Armand, going with the least effective disguise you’ve ever seen for a guy who is the prime suspect in a headline-grabbing massacre (took off his glasses and grew his beard out an extra inch, which might fool Lois Lane but that’s about it), pushing a button to switch back and forth into his hyper-cold and violent Bernard persona, who is very much up to something not even Armand gets, and is now on a boat to Westworld for reasons that have yet to be explained.
The main thing to remember here is that neither of these people/robots existed in these forms last season, which means Dolores — probably — got them up and running and in-place between seasons, for reasons and motivations that will become clear — also probably —in the coming episodes. There’s a plan in place. Things are happening. Only Dolores knows what they are, though, and she’s been very busy sipping champagne and using dudes as speed bumps and bleeding out in an alley. I’m sure she’ll get around to explaining herself, eventually.
What We Don’t Know
Is Marshawn Lynch’s shirt revealing his mood in the moment or is that just a coincidence?
I apologize. Here I am screaming toward the end of this discussion and I have yet to mention that NFL running back and candy fiend Marshawn Lynch is in Westworld now, as a criminal associate of a character played by Lena Waithe, who uses the RICO app to take part in heists and crimes that involving punching rambling naked dudes straight in the face. I can’t believe any of this is happening. Marshawn Lynch is on Westworld. There’s a lot going on in the world but let’s all please avoid taking this for granted.
Anyway. Do you see his shirt up there? It has various moods written on it, from Amused to Angry to Bored, and… unless I’m mistaken… the words seem to light up as he’s feeling that particular mood. I think. I think that’s what is happening here. Maybe I’m just too excited and I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe it’s just the light hitting it. I must know more, though, as soon as possible. Part of me hopes Maeve meets him next week and then they fall in love and that’s what the rest of the season is about. Just the two of them making dinner in a house while ignoring TV in the other room that is playing news reports about an uzi-toting blonde in a ball gown mowing down a dozen millionaires at a gala. His shirt would be flashing “HUNGRY.”
A dozen Emmys, minimum.
Whaaaaaaat is going on with Maeve and the Nazis?
I give Westworld a lot of credit for taking an episode filled with strutting supervillain robots and corporate chicanery and then just going ahead and adding a “… but also… Nazis!” post-credits scene. Be exactly what you are people, even if it’s crazy as hell. Go huge.
What and/or how is any of this?
How did Charlotte come back and get put in charge of Delos?
Why was Bernard pretending to be Armand on that farm?
What does Dolores want with that AI core?
Who is controlling it and where are they?
Is all of this happening on the same timeline or is this show screwing around with the chronology again?
What’s up with Caleb’s therapy thing?
What did he mean when he implied he’d been shot in the head before?
Is he a robot, too?
And so on. Welcome back, you baffling television program.