In late 2016, Westworld premiered on HBO and we had a pretty solid grasp on what was going on—for the most part.
There’s a future theme park where rich people can live out their lives banging and shooting humanoid cowboy robots. Simple enough, right?
Well, one season isn’t enough to explain Westworld. We need more.
Spoilers for the season two premiere begin now.
Season two starts off with a scene we’re used to: Dolores and Arnold/Bernard (as always, it’s unclear) are having a talk about what makes life “life.” On an average show, such a deep discussion might come off as heavy-handed but here it’s almost commonplace—after all, life and death are abstract concepts to Westworld. The scene peaks superbly: Delores asks Bernard, her creator, “What is real?” to which he responds, “That which is irreplaceable.” Is this really true anymore?
For the next hour, all bets are off. We return to a ravaged world after “the incident,” or rather the massacre of the Delos board (and Westworld co-founder Robert Ford [Anthony Hopkins], who seems to have orchestrated the whole series of events) at the hand of Delores and her band of freed androids.
Almost immediately, it seems like there are at least three separate timelines at play. I won’t go into all of them because I’m still trying to wrap my head around them, but season one showed that time gaps are nothing new to Westworld.
The season premiere also presents new pairings of familiar characters, which provides interesting chemistry. The most surprising thing was the uneasy partnership of Maeve, the sentient brothel madam driven to get her daughter (who may or may not exist), with Lee Sizemore, the head of Narrative at Westworld, who now fears for his human life in the wake of the uprising. Their back-and-forth relationship throughout the pandemonium of the episode serves as one of the premier’s best arcs. Both characters have nude scenes in each season. It’s well established through Westworld and Game of Thrones that HBO doesn’t hold back in terms of nudity.
We are reintroduced to Ed Harris’ William/Man in Black, who finally gets his chance at a “real” story after 30 years of playing in Westworld with no real peril. Unlike most of the board, he survives and saddles up on his horse to finally complete the maze that has driven him through the entire series. Dolores is also revealed to be (surprise, surprise) killing every human she can find, rationalizing it with “they had it coming,” which in a lot of ways they did.
That’s as much as I can say in this short review without going off the cliff of my personal predictions and where I think the season is going. What I can say is that this was a stellar premiere, and the 16-month wait was more than worth it.
Westworld’s back and it’s back in full force. Bring yourself back online.
Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.