The return of Westworld is nearly here—and while io9 already has a very handy guide to quickly get you up to speed so you can dive right into season three, we also wanted to look back at the most shocking, most monumentally plot-shifting, and otherwise intensely memorable moments of the show so far.
These are marked by each season and episode, so if you’ve not watched both seasons you can easily avoid that which you haven’t yet seen.
25) (Episode one) At the very end of the first episode, after expressly affirming as part of the standard host questioning that she would never hurt a living thing, Dolores swats and kills a fly—a very clear signal of much bloodier things to come.
24) (Episode two) Maeve, who’s already started to intuit that things are not as they seem in her reality, wakes up while she’s being repaired after her most recent demise. It’s the first big step in an awakening that will propel her character throughout the series.
23) (Episode three) After Elsie and Stubbs track down a wayward woodcutter, he menaces both of them, something that hosts decidedly aren’t supposed to do, before viciously bashing his own head in with a rock. We later learn that he’s got a transmitter embedded in his arm and had been tasked to beam information out of the park, a plot point that would become huge as the season wore on.
22) (Episode four) Theresa heads to her big meeting with Ford on behalf of “the board,” filled with Delos executives who are intent on pushing him out. Ford’s polite but searing warning—reminding Theresa that he knows everything that she knows, plus a whole lot more—signals in no uncertain terms who’s really calling the shots.
21) (Episode five) “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel,” Dolores tells a shocked William after he witnesses her unexpectedly badass gunslinger skills. It’ll take a while before her Wyatt persona fully surfaces, but it’s one of the early signs that Dolores’s fierce alter ego is starting to show.
20) (Episode six) In an episode that sees Bernard discover Ford’s unsettling “family” hidden in the park, and Elsie’s horror-movie moment in the abandoned theater, Maeve’s trip upstairs at the Mesa—where she sees her previous build as a single-mom homesteader being used to promote the park—is maybe the most crucial moment. It solidifies her relationship with the hapless (but helpful) tech Felix, and sets her on the path to making some scary-powerful upgrades to her abilities.
19) (Episode seven) BERNARD IS A HOST. And then, while we’re all still taking this in, Ford makes him murder Theresa.
18) (Episode eight) The Man in Black reveals he first learned about the Maze when he decided to test his capability to do something truly evil: Killing homesteader Maeve’s young daughter in front of her, something she’s still grieving despite all counter-programming efforts. It’s a tragedy with deep reverberations—both in the Man in Black’s obsessive desire to unravel the puzzle and in Maeve’s obsessive desire to reunite with her daughter.
17) (Episode nine) BERNARD, WHO IS A HOST, IS A COPY OF ARNOLD! Upon seeing Bernard, Dolores remembers that she killed Arnold. And then, while we’re all still taking this in, Ford makes Bernard kill himself, however temporarily. (episode nine)
16) (Episode 10) After dropping some heavy hints all season long, the Man in Black and William are revealed to be the same person, some 30 years and major attitude adjustments apart.
15) (Episode 10) That’s big, but so is Bernard’s reveal to Maeve that her plan to escape the park is actually part of her new, secret narrative (Ford’s work, we later learn), not her own idea as she’d proudly assumed—so she decides to exit the train out of Westworld at the last moment. Maeve’s storyline also gives us a gasp-worthy tease of Shōgun World, something the show would explore in-depth in season two.
14) (Episode 10) Also very big: Dolores reaches the center of the maze and hears her own voice inside her head. And then, while we’re still taking this all in, Dolores kills Ford and sparks off the host rebellion.
13) (Episode one) The season two premiere contains a lot—it has to, after shit hit the fan in the season one finale—but the biggest moment is when Bernard, whose fuzzy connection to reality permeates the entire season, realizes that there’s more to Delos than self-aware robots: the company is logging records of guest experiences, as well as their DNA. We also learn that the Man in Black will get his own game this season (“You must find the Door”), and get to shriek at two spooky sights: a dead tiger that’s somehow washed ashore at Westworld, and a terrifyingly faceless “drone host.”
12) (Episode two) The flashback that shows Dolores in “our world,” accompanying Arnold and Ford as they tempt investors (including sleazy ol’ Logan Delos) to fund their robot project, is pretty jaw-dropping. But so is the moment when Dolores and Maeve—two major characters who rarely interact—cross paths in the Westworld wilderness and testily agree to disagree.
11) (Episode two) But the big “wait, what just happened?” moment in episode two has to be when the park’s latest version of outlaw leader El Lazo (guest star Giancarlo Esposito) and his men all kill themselves, practically in unison and presumably on Ford’s beyond-the-grave orders, rather than join the Man in Black on his quest as he’s demanded. It’s a violent delight indeed.
10) (Episode three) We learn where that tiger came from when we glimpse the Raj—a Delos park approximating the time of British colonial rule in India—through the eyes of a mysterious woman who barely escapes that park’s host rebellion. We also get a solid hint that Maeve and company, prowling the snowy borders of Westworld, will soon be visiting Shōgun World proper. But there is a literal “Holy shit!” moment when Armistice—last seen with her arm caught in a door with Delos goons bearing down at the end of season one—reappears, very much alive and jauntily roasting said goons with her new weapon of choice, a flame thrower. Or “dragon,” if you’re Hector.
9) (Episode four) Elsie is alive! She’s mad as hell, but she grudgingly helps Bernard once she catches up the audience and realizes that a) he’s a host; b) Westworld has gone completely off the rails; and c) Delos has been secretly working on host-human hybrids as a way to make rich people immortal, although they haven’t quite gotten there yet—as the mad husk of founder James Delos amply demonstrates.
8) (Episode four) In the realm of stuff that doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things but is just cool as hell, the death of cruel “Confederado” Craddock—by making him drink nitroglycerin then blowing his head off—was high on the Westworld shock value chart.
7) (Episode five) The episode’s deep dive into Shōgun World—a mirror of Westworld in many ways—was full of great moments. But the one-two punch of Akane (guest star Rinko Kikuchi) performing her Wu-Tang dance of gory vengeance against the Shōgun—and then Maeve using her newfound “psychic powers” to access the host mesh network and turn the bad guys against each other—represents one of TV’s most thrilling sequences of all time.
6) (Episode six) We get another dazzling Shōgun World scene when Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) fights his old rival Tanaka (Masayoshi Haneda) in an epic samurai swordfight that ends with dismemberment and decapitation. After all the Wild West gun battles Westworld has given us, this visceral clash is fantastic to watch.
It’s the absolute high point in an episode that also builds off the not-entirely-surprising reveal that the woman who escaped the Raj, Emily (Katja Herbers), is the Man in Black’s estranged daughter, and more of Bernard and Elsie’s detective work. Who’s lurking in the Cradle’s hidden code, running defense on any attempt to restore order? Ford’s ghost, of course.
5) (Episode seven) The episode’s disjointed timeline reminds us of just how broken Bernard’s mind really is, but chatting with Ford (who uploaded his consciousness before he was killed by Dolores) leads him to realize that “We weren’t here to code the hosts. We were here to de-code the guests!” When the hosts blow up the Cradle, all their backups are wiped out, though Ford still lingers in Bernard’s wobbly brain.
4) (Episode eight) These are supposed to be moments, but the Akecheta storyline in season two’s eighth episode, “Kiksuya,” deserves to be included in full. The show finally went deep with one of its Native American characters, and Akecheta’s heartbreaking backstory explores why he’s one of the most enlightened hosts in the park and gives us a fresh perspective on familiar events. The episode also allows him a chance to explain to Maeve (and the audience) that she’s been misinterpreting his role in her history.
3) (Episode nine) Several tragic deaths stand out in an episode that focuses on the Man in Black. In a flashback, we learn that his troubled wife (guest star Sela Ward) killed herself after getting a glimpse of his true nature—the brutal person he is when he’s in Westworld. Another suicide comes when Teddy, burdened by his aggro upgrades, realizes his path with Dolores has come to an end. And perhaps most horrifically, the Man in Black murders his own daughter in cold blood after convincing himself that she’s just a Ford-created illusion.
2) (Episode 10) The season finale was a bit of a mess—even after multiple viewings, you still might need a chart to keep track of the timelines—but it was, as you might expect, full of gigantic moments, reveals, and collateral damage. It also contained two great escapes. The first was when a group of hosts made it to the Valley Beyond and into a glowing, idyllic virtual reality, beamed to a hidden place where humankind can never bother them again. It wasn’t easy; they battled Delos saboteurs, including a re-tasked zombie version of Clementine that made them all attack each other. But those who broke through will be in robot heaven forever.
1) (Episode 10) The other great escape, of course, will have a huge impact on season three. It came when Charlotte Hale—who was actually Dolores in disguise—smuggled at least five host “pearls” out (one was Bernard’s) in her handbag when she left the park; it’s possible that Felix and his cohort Sylvester also revived some of the other hosts while they were on clean-up detail. (Maeve made it out one way or another, because Thandie Newton is in season three.) The “new world” awaits.
Westworld III returns to warp our minds starting Sunday, March 15 on HBO.
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