“I told you friend, not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond.”
It’s been waaaay too long since Westworld was on our television screens. I reviewed the season 1 finale, on this blog, all the way back in December 2016. There’s a recap of season 1 at the beginning of the first episode, ‘Journey Into Night’, but if you want the absolute best experience going into this then I’d definitely advise re-watching season 1. The action picks up practically right after the bloody season 1 finale. Well, most of it. Anthony Hopkins’ Ford is dead and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is leading a bloody uprising through the park. Maeve (Thandie Newton) is taking a rag-tag group of characters on a daughter-hunting quest Bernard wakes up on a beach just in time to be picked up by the Delos cavalry. Only Bernard’s storyline is happening two weeks later. And at the end of episode 1, it’s revealed that the entirety of the park has drowned in the intervening two weeks. Westworld’s back baby.
While season 2 of Westworld had even more time periods than season 1, it’s much less complicated (in that regard at least – the rest of the show is equally perplexing). This is because season 1’s timelines were used as a late-season twist while season 2 all but tells you when the scenes you’re watching take place. Episode 2 for example, takes us all the way back to before the park was opened, to when Logan (the always fantastic Ben Barnes) was first courted into investing big bucks into Ford’s dream. It was nice to see Logan and young-William again even if it hurt to witness William’s transformation from innocent nice guy to Ed Harris’s The Man In Black. More Jimmi Simpson is always appreciated however and this episode suggests we’ve only scratched the surface of his interest in the park. The scenes Simpson shared with Delos CEO and father to Logan, James Delos, were some of the episodes best. Peter Mullan is some inspired casting for the sweary head of the Delos snake and I hope we see more of him. I’d still personally like to know how William convinced James Delos to listen to him over his very own son. Although the tell-tale TV cough Delos exhibits suggest he won’t be around very long.
The rest of the cast are equally fantastic, especially the main three; Bernard, Maeve, and Dolores. Evan Rachel Wood is as brilliant as ever as the newly awoken Dolores and has much more to do this time around. Her innocence in the first season made her likeable but her cold-heartedness this time around has made her utterly compelling. Thandie Newton’s Maeve still rules the park though and is perhaps the only truly awoken host (or maybe not, I’ve been wrong before). Newton is one of Britain’s finest actors so it’s no surprise she’s awesome here but, perhaps surprisingly, it’s the comedy moments with reluctant partner Lee Sizemore that are the best. Unlike Maeve’s storyline, however, Bernard’s storyline offers little levity. His confusion is shared with the audience meaning we have less of a clue than he does. What is this underground base? Did Ford know about it? What’s the deal with the spooky drone hosts? Is Delos stealing the guests DNA and if so, what for? Like with season 1; I’m sure all of these twists will be addressed before the series is through. For now though we have Jeffrey Wright’s fabulous performance to enjoy. His dual role as Bernard/Arnold is revisited throughout and Wright manages to imbue these very similar characters with just enough separate personalities that they feel entirely unique.
I’m not sure what’s happening next week but I saw a tiger in the trailer. And hopefully we’ll see shogunworld sometime soon because I’ve got some questions. Although right now the show is already the best show on television – all they have to do now is keep the mysteries coming and the blood flowing.
And more Gus Fring please.