Westworld Season 2 (2018)
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, James Marsden
Created by: Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
My 2 Cents:
The new season opens with a nice recap of season 1, and then takes a leisurely stroll around the Westworld park to reintroduce the show’s main players. Delores (Even Rachel Wood) has gone all, western themed Terminator, Maeve (Thandie Newton) begins her search for her robot daughter, The Man in Black (Ed Harris) enjoys the now deadly high-stakes theme park (which he now wants to destroy I think), and Teddy follows Delores around like a loyal puppy (for now, maybe). Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), so far, is mostly walking about confused and still unable to look directly through his glasses! He seems to be trying to solve a mystery of his own that involves Delores’s daddy-bot.
The first three episodes do a decent job of reminding you of what came before, while also setting up new themes and mysteries. The show’s non-linear approach to storytelling continues, and more theme parks are brought into the mix. This sets up plenty for fans of the show to speculate about as the various characters explore their agendas (here’s one, is The Man in Black a robot?). Westworld’s pacing and tone, from the revamped opening credits to the bigger story components are consistent with season 1. Fans of the show will likely be intrigued with the show’s direction and not be disappointed.
As with season 1, the cast and writing are superb. I wasn’t overly blown away with the idea that part of this season is basically a topical conversation about online privacy concerns, but loved everything Delores, Maeve, and The Man in Black were doing. This is one of the best shows on TV. Confusing, challenging, and thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to seeing how all this plays out.
Am I in for the entire season? Yeehaw! I’ll update this page after the season ends.
The rest of the season: <spoilers ahead>
So, there we have it, season 2 of Westworld. A mind-bending mix of themes, ideas, philosophies, violence, and puzzles. Lots and lots of freaking puzzles! Episodes four to ten hit some major highs, and then, unfortunately, ended badly.
My favorite episode? Episode 4: The Riddle of the Sphinx (I think my favorite Westworld episode, ever, and the only episode I have watched twice). This had some big reveals, great dialogue, it answered some questions, asked some more, and Peter Mullan’s performance was superb. Oh yes, you’ll feel sympathy for the devilish James Delos by the episode’s end, mark my words.
From there, it’s mostly all good. As the season progresses, the twisted narrative gets twistier, but remains fascinating. We get to visit Samurai World, Maeve explores new abilities, Delores gets more militant and her relationship with Teddy doesn’t end well. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) returns as some sort of cloud version of himself, and Bernard (who remains confused about what spectacles are for) tries to sort through the jumble of memories in his head.
As the episodes came and went, I found myself getting more and more lost. I did, however, assume the creators of the show knew what they were doing, so I resigned myself to let everything wash over me. I figured the creators of this show were playing some kind of narrative game of 3D chess across multiple dimensions. A dullard like me was never going to figure it all out, so I looked to the finale to help me put it all together.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The finale, for me, was a huge let down, and I wondered if the show runners were actually playing story telling Jenga rather than 3D chess. Rather than provide some solid answers, the show doubles down on the confusion. Maeve’s concluding moments in the season were just a repeat of her shocking near-death experience from episode 7: Les Écorchés, so therefore had less impact (do we really think she’s gone for good? Not likely!). The Man in Black’s robot existence wasn’t the big reveal they made it out to be, and his brief team up with Delores wasn’t all that interesting, and even predictable/illogical/convenient in regards to her plans to sabotage The Man in Black’s gun.
I was looking for some answers, but I got more questions. Up is down, left is right, cats love dogs, Bernard created Delores until Delores created Bernard, the Man in Black’s daughter is dead, then she isn’t. Nothing about this show is, reliable, so you start to wonder why you should bother trying to figure it out. It seems to delight in leading you in one direction, only to twist things around again. For most of this season, I found this fascinating, until I didn’t anymore.
I fear Westworld has gotten so convoluted that in a year from now, they’ll have to spend an hour recapping the first two seasons. Maybe have Anthony Hopkins appear over the footage to explain things for idiots like me, who, enjoy the show, but are not going to spend valuable time reading online essays about it. A TV show shouldn’t require that much extra effort. I have a life, HBO!
Am I in for season 3? Probably. I’m still curious, but not as excited as before.