It’s fair to say, that if you remember Clementine being the draw at the saloon or Doris being everyone’s favorite attraction from season one, that was the violent delights. Season Two throws us straight into the violent ends part of that quote. Going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’ve seen the first season of Westworld. If you haven’t, you’ve spent fifteen dollars on less entertaining things than an HBO subscription to see that shit play out, so come on back once that hits your cable bill. In other words, here’s your spoiler warning for season one.
Westworld Ain’t For the Babies
When we left the park or got our human asses kicked out of the park, shit was in total chaos. Doris went ahead and got woke. To celebrate, she put the park’s founder, Ford’s brains all over the investors standing in the front row. Meanwhile Maeve got hit with the maternal instinct, took her ass off the train. She’s searching for her daughter and assembling a badass clone army to do it. Oh, and William, the Man in Black was the happiest person to ever get shot we’ve ever seen. For a park that sold you synthetic adventures packaged as reality got really fuckin’ real at the end. Judging by the first half of the second season, we keep learning new levels of real at every turn.
The violence has been kicked up a notch and become more brutal for the second season, but it’s got even more justification this time around. While we saw brutality from guests towards hosts that exposed how brutal people are, this season shows wrath without human limit. If you assaulted a host previously, not only may that host now remember everything that happened to them, they are willing to repay the favor twofold.
A New World
There are tons of familiar faces from the first season, though the hosts are not monolithic in their goals. They are all trying to accomplish a different thing. You might assume that Doris’ camp will join with Maeve to overthrow the human response (and oh yes the humans are coming). But different hosts, flexing their newfound freedom have very different paths to take, ya know, like humans. Watching them branch from one another builds a wide narrative with lots of diverse set pieces and movements.
Speaking of narrative, the writers that kicked the chair from under us in season one know they can’t pull the same trick twice. While there’s the possibility that someone we thought was homegrown is a host, it wouldn’t have the same effect as Bernard Man Hand Rub from the first season. Nor can they do the, oh, you didn’t know thirty years separated these stories connected by the future Walter White trick either. But Westworld still wants to tell multiple stories at once to create a broad tapestry like before.
This time they lean into multiple timelines, making no attempt to conceal them. Instead, it leans hard into the idea that to know what kind of shit is going down, you need to know what kind of shit done went down previously. Often, this is connected by Bernard himself, as we watch him struggle with memories of being under Ford’s control and his newfound freedom in the present. Which, means, that Jeffrey Wright is doing the Lord’s Work. Even on Sundays.
All These Timelines and No Speedforce
Another accomplishment with the timelines is how they are able to build backstory, whether it be the mysteries still not resolved from the first season or how the park came to this resting state. Seeing more backstory with strong performers such as how William came to be how he is or how the park first got investment help deepen the lore. Being given a more well rounded tale about the characters helps us see their motivations and why they continue to march through what is now a legit warzone for their goals. Some of this does make it difficult to follow at times. There is A LOT going on. Almost all the time. So, this ain’t a show you can multitask while watching. The show is good enough and dense enough that it demands your undivided attention.
Also, can’t forget the promise they made of other theme parks. Can’t say too much about that, but yeah…yeah…shit is gorgeous. Real af. But gorgeous.
Westworld Season 2 debuts on April 22nd, which feels like an eternity away. We’ll be rocking recaps in our trademark recap style cuz my gawd, the hosts earned it yo. We doing this for the hosts.