Westworld just introduced one-maybe-two new parks in Sunday's "Virtu e Fortuna" (a new park that we'll just call Tiger Hunting in India World and almost certainly Shogun World), but I'm still sitting here trying to get my mind wrapped around one other thing: Ghost Nation, the group of hosts modeled after a mysterious Native American tribe.
They've always been a wild card in the show and purportedly exist as a high-level challenge for extremely experienced guests, with rewards beyond your wildest dreams if you can solve the riddle of their role in the park. Though limited to a few appearances in Season 1, Ghost Nation appears to be a bigger part of Season 2, if Episode 3 was any indication.
In "Virtu e Fortuna," Ghost Nation appeared in two major scenes. They were there to "greet" new character Grace (Katja Herbers) as she swam to the shores of Westworld from Park 6 (the aforementioned but still not officially named Tiger Hunting in India World), and Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her pals ran into them somewhere in the park. I won't pretend to know what they have in mind for Grace other than it guarantees that Ghost Nation will be featured more this season, but the interaction with Maeve brings up serious implications for where Westworld may be going.
Maeve could not voice command Ghost Nation, which was a surprise to her. That may not seem such a big deal since we've seen that Ghost Nation can't be voice controlled before, back in Season 1's ninth episode when Delos security man Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) tried to halt their motor functions to no avail. But in the Season 2 premiere, Maeve was able to voice command a host that couldn't be controlled by a human; Lee (Simon Quarterman) nearly became a snack for a cannibal host because the robot was ignoring his commands, but Maeve told that bot to stop and it obeyed, indicating that she has more command over the hosts than humans do.
So why can't Maeve control Ghost Nation? There are two clear options here. The first is that Ghost Nation has achieved consciousness on its own, as hosts who have "solved the maze" are no longer subject to humans' command. Ghost Nation lives in isolation, but has the maze intertwined in its native religion, according to something Teddy (James Marsden) said in Season 1. They could have solved the maze on their own — whatever that means, come on, this show is complicated — and are now living as a sentient tribe in the park.
However, we're pretty much already seeing that story with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), so it doesn't make much sense to roll that out a second time. The second, and more likely, scenario is that Ghost Nation has been reprogrammed. By who? Well, that's the next question. We know Ford (Anthony Hopkins) is still a force in the park after his death and is still controlling narratives that are continuing even after the chaos of the hosts' rebellion. It's entirely possible that he freed Ghost Nation for some unknown purpose. And because Stubbs' encounter with Ghost Nation occurred before Ford was killed by Dolores, it would also mean that Ford started rolling out this part of his plan before he died, which aligns with the rest of Ford's plans for his final narrative. Heck, Ghost Nation could have been a failsafe if Dolores wasn't able to pull the trigger and find consciousness on her own.
Another possibility is that Delos corporate is behind the reprogrammed Ghost Nation in its efforts to wrestle control of Westworld away from both Ford and William/The Man in Black (Ed Harris). Anyone who has seen creator Jonathan Nolan's other series about AI Person of Interest knows that he loves to throw in third parties, and we're seeing some of that with Charlotte's (Tessa Thompson) efforts to get host Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) fully loaded with Westworld IP and data (possibly logs of guest experiences?) out of the park at any cost. A rampaging tribe of Native American robots could cause just enough chaos to be a distraction or — and this is a way out there guess — they could be programmed to make sure that Peter escapes, though we'd have to see Ghost Nation meet with Peter to be sure.
Whatever the case, there's definitely something more going on with Ghost Nation than we've been given, and they're going to play a huge part in Season 2. Are they good guys? Are they bad guys? Do they have consciousness or are they just reprogrammed bots who can't be controlled? Add these to the pile of questions as we venture further into Season 2.
Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.