SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of Westworld, "Journey Into Night."
All aboard! The train to Westworld has left the station, and now that HBO has thrown viewers back into the theme park from hell, we can start to dive into where Season 2 may be headed. The first season used dual timelines to great effect and a huge reveal about a certain Man in Black, which seemed like the sort of one-time trick the showrunners couldn't use again. But Season 2's first episode quickly shows us that time is still very much an important element -- and, in fact, it may prove even trickier to follow in Season 2, with possibly even more timelines to keep track of.
A recap of Season 1 is highly recommended if you're feeling a bit hazy about the details of 2016's original season. There are plenty of easter eggs that even the closest of watchers would find difficult to catch. However, of the many reveals present in the first season, there are two that are so big the showrunners would need to be mad to consider trying to pull them over on the audience again. Or would they?
The first is the more obvious twist: that in a place where androids are nearly imperceptible from humans, there's bound to be at least one person who thinks they are human, but is, in fact, an android. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), the Behavior Specialist of the park and mentee to Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), finds out toward the end of Season 1 that he is no different than the hosts he helps repair and that Dr. Ford built him in the likeness of the park's co-creator, Arnold.
The second huge plot twist in Season 1 came in the finale, when the audience learns they've been watching storylines in two different timelines simultaneously; one set 30 years before when the show began. Which meant that Dolores's hero, William (Jimmi Simpson), was just a younger (much nicer) version of The Man in Black (Ed Harris).
Going into Season 2, one might assume the show's head writers, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, would know those two elements are off the table as far as twists go. Viewers are sure to be close-watching human characters for signs of android behavior, and we know now to be on the lookout for subtle differences in locations (flashback scenes in Season 1 saw Arnold dressing slightly differently than Bernard, and the Westworld logo was different in William's past scenes). But Westworld's writers may have learned a few lessons after their run-ins with the fastidious, eagle-eyed, theory-loving viewers of the first season, and instead of trying to throw new tricks at viewers, they intend to level up on the ones they've already used -- especially in their use of timelines.
Episode 1 of Season 2 starts with a flashback of Arnold talking with Dolores. He tells her about a dream he had, about drowning in water while Dolores and "the others" wait on a distant shore. She asks what it means, and he says dreams don't mean anything, they aren't real. So she asks "what is real?" and he says, "That which is irreplaceable." She doesn't like this answer, touting a line she said in Season 1 about how it "doesn't feel honest."
Bernard proceeds to have a series of quick flashes to memories we haven't seen yet, many of which don't occur in the first episode. This is the first hint that Westworld's writers aren't afraid of showing us glimpses of this season's future. This feels like a pretty intentional jab at those who will be trying to predict this season's plot twists. When Bernard comes out of his memory flashes his voice says, "Is this now?"
It's a very quick moment and easy to brush over as the next scene shows him waking on a beach with two weeks having gone by since the Board Meeting Massacre. We see in flashback scenes what happened the night the hosts "woke up" and the onslaught that followed. Bernard and Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) make it to an underground bunker that Bernard's never seen and proves Charlotte has been up to some questionable stuff gathering park guests' DNA and user data on behalf of DELOS, the company that runs Westworld (and the other five parks).