Westworld promised that Season 2 would open with a time jump forward: The show would not pick up where it left off last season, with the massacre of the Board and the death of Ford. But even so, fans could not have predicted it would open quite the way it did. The prologue, as viewers have seen before was an Arnold-Dolores session, and Arnold feared what Dolores might become once she understood the reality of the world. But then it cut to Bernard, lying on the beach. What happened to Bernard? How did he get there?
Recall that at the end of last season, Dolores and Bernard met for the first time. Ford had been keeping them apart all these years because Dolores would recognize Bernard as Arnold and blow Bernard's carefully created human facade. But now that she's seen him, she knows he's a Host, and therefore automatically on her side. That would explain why he would survive the initial shooting, and be able to escape. But other Hosts do not know his true nature, so for all intents and purposes (as we see later in the hour) he is scrambling with Team Humans and Guests, trying to escape being shot. In that endeavor, he winds up teamed up with Charlotte Hale, trying to get back to the lab.
But here on the beach, it's weeks later. Two weeks later, at the very least, according to Karl Strand, the new Head of Cleaning Up This Mess You People Made. Strand and his men have just arrived on the island. And it is an island, that is confirmed*, answering questions that fans have had since Season 1.
*Huzzah! The Jurassic Park comparisons will continue.
But fans clearly have a lot of questions from the get-go. Who is this guy Strand, who sent him? Why did it take literal weeks for them to show up? Is lining up every Host one can lay their hands on to shoot them at point-blank range really the best solution?
That last part really gives the episode it's oomph, not just because we know this is upping the stakes for Bernard to stay silent in front of Strand about his true nature, but also because it's quite possibly the most brutal we've seen Team Human treat Team Host. While Westworld certainly made reference to how the guests basically had their way with the hosts how they pleased, more often than not the barn door would close, the woman would be chased off the screen, the murders would happen as the camera cut away. This is stark. This is dark. This is horrifying.
But it's all the more terrible when the show cuts back to the past, and the days just after the massacre. Bernard may have joined Team Human, but something is wrong with his programming. His hand shakes, not all that unlike someone in the early stages of a nerve disorder. By the end of the episode, he's desperately injecting himself with cortical fluids when Charlotte isn't looking just to function. What is wrong with Bernard? And why isn't he showing these symptoms on the beach?
To be fair, it has been 18 months since Season 1. But for Bernard, it's been all of two or three days since Robert Ford had him shoot himself in the head. Felix woke him up, but he didn't do much to mitigate the damage. If Bernard is frantically injecting himself with cortical fluids, that means he's still not recovered from that wound, and he's going to need someone he can trust, who also has the knowledge to repair him, and soon.
At least we know he's got a couple of weeks to get it done. Because as the episode ends we learn also that the reason Strand took so long to show up is that no help would be sent until Peter Abernathy's data upload happens.
Bernard just needs to get away from Charlotte long enough to get repaired, while still appearing to help make that happen. Somehow, in the next two weeks.