It wasn't enough for Westworld to tie your brain in knots with existential questions of what it means to be human and repeated changes in character as robots are shuffled from role to role. In its pursuit of oatmealifying your mind, HBO's drama decided to also forego television's most basic rule of structure: tell the story from beginning to end. Instead, Westworld bends, twists and breaks its timelines, and then scatters them all through each episode and season for the viewer to put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle that constantly has a dump truck unloading more pieces into the puzzle when you're just trying to find the four corners.
We've taken a crack at organizing the timelines in sequential order so you can better understand what's going on, but as is always the case with this show, specific details regarding timelines aren't always laid out in crystal-clear fashion, so we had to rough estimate in some spots. We'll update this post on Mondays following episodes.
Note: A specific date of 2052 regarding Maeve's escape — which can be used as an anchor date to determine what year other things happened — was posted on the promotional Delos website but subsequently taken down. Because of that, I'm not putting specific dates to the timelines. But if you want to know, it would put the beginning of this timeline at around 2012. However, this may be an alternate reality anyway, so who cares about exact dates?
Roughly 35 Years Ago
- Westworld is well into its design and building phase, and horny robot engineers are elated.
- Dolores is created and powered up. "Welcome to the world," Arnold says. Sweet, things are going great so far! This place is gonna be a hoot. (Season 1, Episode 10)
Roughly 30 Years Ago
- Arnold and Ford prepare to open the park with a series of beta tests as more hosts are brought online. Guests are not allowed at this time.
- Arnold and Dolores are in "the outside world" (likely Japan) and Arnold is testing Dolores to see if she's ready to be paraded in front of potential investors. She likely is, but Arnold is protective of her and tells Ford that she isn't. (Season 2, Episode 2)
- Logan gets a demonstration of Westworld technology at a swank cocktail party. Then he has an orgy with a bunch of robots, including Angela, because the first thing that comes to Logan's mind when he sees a lifelike robot is to f*** it. (Season 2, Episode 2)
- Back at Westworld's Mesa Hub, Arnold is teaching Dolores about consciousness, tells her about the maze and becomes a proud papa when he deems Dolores to be "alive." (Throughout Season 1)
- Because he thinks Dolores is alive, Arnold begs that the park not open because then humans will ruin everything by having sex with the hosts, who — in Arnold's eyes — are more than just robots now. (Season 1, Episode 10)
- Arnold asks Dolores to kill all the other hosts, and then him, in the Massacre at Escalante. The idea was to keep Ford from opening the park, but really it just made things a lot messier. (Season 1, Episode 10)
Shortly After That (Call it Roughly 30 Years Ago Minus a Year or So aka the Young William Years)
- Despite the unplanned slaughter of hosts and one of the park's co-creators, Westworld opens for business! Nothing can go wrong!
- Delos becomes an angel investor of Westworld at some point, likely after Logan f***ed his way through the park.
- Logan, now a vet of the park, brings William to Westworld to show him why he wants Delos to throw more money into it and become a major investor. (Season 1, Episode 2)
- William's long strange trip through robosexuality, heartbreak and discovering his truly a**hole self within dazzles us throughout Season 1. (Season 1, Episode 2 - 10).
- Some time after his visit to Westworld, William shows his father-in-law James Delos the park to get him to throw cash at it. William says they'll log all the guests' experiences, and that's where the real importance in Westworld is. It's not with robots who you can f***, it's with recording the guests' desires to f*** the robots (and do any other naughty thing they want to do when they think they aren't being watched). (Season 2, Episode 2)
- James Delos' retirement party signals the beginning of William's reign as head of Delos. Dolores seems to recognize William, who by now, is so over her. (Or bitter that he fell in love with a robot.) (Season 2, Episode 2)
- Some time later (it's unclear) William talks to Dolores in Mesa Hub about the "question no one has ever even dreamed of asking," and shows her a big terraforming project currently underway. (Season 2, Episode 2)
About 15 Years Ago
- Ford creates Bernard, a host version of his late partner Arnold. Somehow, nobody says anything about Bernard looking exactly like the man who was Ford's partner. (Season 1, Episode 9)
One-ish Year Ago
- Maeve is playing the role of a regular townsperson outside of Sweetwater; she has a daughter. Because this is Westworld, her daughter is murdered in cold blood by a jerk. It's The Man in Black who is literally killing people just to see if can do it. He can. This haunts Maeve, who remembers this after she gains consciousness in her next role as Sweetwater Madam. (Throughout Season 1)
Present Day (aka The Man in Black's timeline)
- The park is still open, somehow, likely due to an infusion of cash from the William-led Delos.
- Several robots begin to glitch, due to Ford giving them "reveries," which are like memories for robots. (Throughout Season 1)
- Teddy dies. A lot. (Throughout Season 1)
- The Man in Black returns to Westworld and begins his journey to the center of the maze, which turns out wasn't anything for him anyway. What the heck, show? (Throughout Season 1)
- Dolores also begins her journey into the maze and gains consciousness. Cool, a robot who can think for itself? This truly is the beginning of something unforgettable for mankind. More on that in a bit. (Throughout Season 1)
- Charlotte Hale is sent to Delos to have Ford removed because he's acting like a crazy person, and more importantly, make sure all of Ford's work doesn't go to waste in some sort of park-wide massacre or something. The idea is so sneak a robot off the premises, so Charlotte loads up Peter Abernathy (Dolores' first "dad") with tons of data and just enough personality to exit the park like a walking hard drive full of IP worth billions of dollars. (Season 1, starting in Episode 6)
- Dolores achieves consciousness, and kills a bunch of humans, including Ford, at the big Westworld gala for board members and investors. S*** hits fan. (Season 1, Episode 10)
- Bernard and Charlotte escape the massacre at the gala, go to underground sector where Charlotte requests extraction from Delos higher ups. They refuse because they haven't received the package (Peter Abernathy). (Season 2, Episode 1)
- Dolores is killing humans and having a blast doing so. (Season 2, Episode 1)
- The Man in Black is playing Ford's new game, decides to revisit the "biggest mistake he's ever made." (Season 2, Episode 1 and 2)
- Maeve grabs Lee and Hector and looks for her daughter (Season 2, Episode 1)
About a Few Weeks Later
- Bernard wakes up weeks after the massacre on a beach, and is greeted by Delos employees who ask him to help figure out what happened. They recover video footage of Dolores slaughtering hosts from about 11 days earlier. (Season 2, Episode 1)
- Bernard and Delos employees discover hundreds of dead hosts in the water, and Bernard says that he killed them all. (Season 2, Episode 1)
Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.