With Westworld season two almost upon us, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at what happened in the critically-acclaimed first series of the sci-fi cowboy drama (man, it’s good to use that programme description again), especially given the long gap between series.
Take a look below to see our quick digest of the most important things to remember from Westworld series one.
Welcome to Westworld
Early in the series we’re introduced to Westworld, a high-tech cowboy-themed theme park filled with compliant robot “hosts” programmed to help guests achieve their darkest fantasies.
The park was set up by Robert Ford and his now-missing partner Arnold, and relies on a staff of soldiers and scientists including master programmer Bernard.
To the guests, the hosts are almost indistinguishable from real humans – but behind the scenes, there are worries about strange behaviour from the androids, who are breaking from their pre-determined “loops” and accessing old experiences from their regularly-wiped memories.
Meanwhile, as the series goes on key personnel go missing, with their fates still mysterious to this day (though some of the characters will be back in season two).
The Man in Black
Among the guests at Westworld is a regular visitor with deep ties to the park and a habit of violently assaulting the hosts, known to viewers only as The Man in Black.
During the series he’s particularly interested in innocent young host Dolores, and tries to solve a mysterious game-within-the-game called The Maze due to his boredom at the traditional aspects of the park.
Meanwhile, one of the earliest-built hosts is starting to notice strange things. Rancher’s daughter Dolores is happy in her little world – but mysterious underground meetings with programmer Bernard hint that she might be achieving true consciousness and breaking free of her programming.
Soon she encounters a couple of guests called Logan and William, with the latter taking a shine to her and bringing her with them on their adventure. But increasingly, Dolores finds herself having strange flashes of memory. Just who is she? And what terrible thing happened in Westworld that she keeps almost remembering?
Meanwhile, brothel owning host Maeve begins to question her own memories when she dreams of a daughter she never had. Waking up in a lab, she blackmails two Westworld technicians into helping her escape, eventually leading a bloody attack against the staff with some other hosts and trying to slip out of the park.
However, it’s soon revealed that more or less all her decisions, including trying to escape, were actually programmed into her by someone – and as she decides to stay in the park and track down her daughter, it remains unclear whether that’s also part of a pre-ordained storyline.
Throughout the series, Bernard has been investigating the mysterious problems with the hosts – but when he and corporate executive Theresa go to confront Ford with their findings, it’s revealed that Bernard himself is a host, based on deceased park co-founder Arnold Weber and with no knowledge of his true state.
After Ford commands him to brutally murder Theresa, Bernard struggles to accept his new status – and he barely has time to let it sink in before everything changes.
By the end of the series Dolores and William have been on all sorts of adventures, with the pair eventually falling in love.
However, when they’re separated by circumstance Dolores finds herself at a newly-restored church in the middle of nowhere that she recognises from a past life – and then she encounters the Man in Black once more at the end of his quest to find the centre of The Maze.
With Dolores in his power once again, the Man in Black reveals a shocking truth – he is actually her love William, decades on from the adventures she remembers. All this time she has been hallucinating events from years ago as if they’re happening now, including her meetings with “Bernard” (in fact, the original Arnold) and time with William.
Over the years William became twisted at a memory-wiped Dolores’ indifference to him, and has enacted terrible cruelty on the hosts in the name of entertainment. He also gained a significant financial interest in the park, meaning he profits from the hosts’ misery.
However, the Man in Black is also thwarted when Ford reveals that the Maze wasn’t really a special puzzle for him after all – it was always just a method for the hosts to gain sentience, devised by Arnold in the early days of the park. Eventually, this led Dolores to massacre many of her brethren and Arnold (under Arnold’s own orders) at the church decades ago, a deadly event in the history of Westworld that she has had flashbacks to throughout the series.
Sadly, Arnold’s plan to shut down the park and save the hosts didn’t work – until now.
Ford’s grand plan
After trying for months to force Ford out of Westworld, parent company Delos finally get their wish in the series finale. However, in his farewell speech Ford enacts his final plan – to finish Arnold’s work, grant the hosts sentience and allow them the chance at becoming the resilient new species that humans no longer are.
With her mind now open Dolores shoots and kills Ford, while the other hosts begin to attack the guests and corporate executives present at Ford’s party, much to the glee of the Man in Black. Finally, Westworld is offering him a real challenge.
But which humans will survive to fight another day in season two? Can the hosts find their way into the wide world? Will Dolores’ old host boyfriend Teddy adjust to her murderous ways? And what will happen to Delos’ OTHER parks, including the samurai-influenced Shogun World?
To find out, you’ll have to watch on when season two begins next month. We predict a whole lot of fans will be freezing all motor functions in front of the TV that night.
Westworld returns to Sky Atlantic and NOWTV on Monday 23rd April, simulcasting with the US airing