I have not decided completely how this review will pan out, but at the very least it will give you a little background on the show and a rating of the series thus far (including S2E1). This post could progress along as S2 progresses, and unveil new theories and ratings and ideas about where the show is headed.
Jonathan Nolan and his wife Lisa Joy have done tremendous things with Westworld season one. And, now, after taking off in 2017, have given us the next installment of this mind-bending ride.
Season 1, with all of its twists and turns seems to just be breaking the surface of what the creators have in mind with this. Westworld is just the beginning, and as we see at the end of Season 1, we see at least one more world (other than “Westworld”) coming onto the scene. We see the letters “SW,” which could either be taken as “Samurai World” or “Shogun World”, especially from the Eastern feel we get from those new/hungry hosts. When Nolan was asked by IGN if “Shogun world . . . [is] the name,” he responded, “[y]ou’ll have to stay tuned.”
With the possibility of other worlds and only having experienced one of the worlds, this means we have only scratched the surface of the show. By the end of Season 1 we haven’t even had a chance to see the “real world” or where in the world these people even are. The only two locations we see are Westworld and the lab that runs it. This is something to expect in Season 2 to be explored more fully. When taking all of the shows elements into perspective this show just barely hits an A, but still hits. There are only a few shows that would best it, never less those few and far between have the higher ratings reserved for them.
In regards to worldview, the show seems to present a secular worldview (see final episode “The Bicameral Man” and Ford’s explanation of Michelangelo’s painting), but also (and maybe accidentally) plays into the mind of a Christianity, with the dichotomy between Creator and Created. A natural question throughout the Christian life is the same question that Bernard asks Maeve at the end of Season 1:
“These things you are doing, have you ever stopped to asked yourself, why you are doing them?”
Maeve believed herself to be acting on her own accord the whole time she was part of the rebellion, but it was revealed that each of these steps (all the way to her leaving on a train to the real world!) were already part of her “loop,” or part of her story already written by a Creator. So the Created will always be asking about their own story, much like Maeve reflects on in these final moments of Season 1:
Is my story already written? How much of my story is already written, and how much am I deciding on?
In other words, who is telling our story? Me? Someone/something else? I love how Aslan responds to Shasta in C.S. Lewis’ Horse and His Boy:
“Child, I am telling you your story, not hers, I tell no one any story but his own.”
Questions about free will or predestination come into play here as well. Are we just automatons of a sort that have a story written by a Creator even though it feels like we make our own decisions? Is it like Ford says, and there really is no need for a Creator, pointing out the human brain hidden in plain sight in Michelangelo’s painting? Or do we have some sort of free will, or can we even break off of our story lines like Maeve ends up doing at the end of Season 1? Remember she gets off the train, thus breaking from the story her creator had destined for her. All interesting questions to think about.
I know it has been a while since Season 1, so let’s remember some things that can help you get back into the show…
We are left with Westworld in disarray. A once sprawling countryside with guests who can run amok and do what they will—to a place where not even the guests are safe. There is a rebellion or mutiny of sorts that is getting under way, led by our sweet country girl Dolores and in some ways by our sweet madame of the brothel Maeve.
Delos (the company that owns Westworld), have slowly been ousting Ford from his post as headmaster. Run by a little whip Charlotte (who is stuck somewhere at the cocktail party at the end of S1), they will do anything and everything to get rid of Ford. It should also be noted that Delos has been sneaking information out of the park for some use that we do not know.
Ford (Anthony Hopkins)
Ford claims at the end of season 1 that he has done something that Arnold (co-creator of Westworld) could not figure out how to do, and that is to save the hosts. How has he done it? We don’t exactly know, but one thing to remember is that soon after saying he figured out how to save the hosts, a host blew his brains all over some well-to-do humans at a cocktail party. Thus far, we know (and Nolan confirmed via IGN) that it was indeed “a Ford” that died at the end of Season 1. I thought it was very interesting that Nolan said “A Ford” and not “The Ford” or simply “Ford” in his response to IGN about the conclusion of our dear park host (host as in someone who entertains people as guests, not host like . . . well, you know).
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood)
Our sweet dear Dolores has wandered far from her little loop out in the country home with her father. She now is causing a rebellion of Worldly proportions: The voice in her head is now her own and she kicks off these new-found desires with doing what? Oh ya, blowing the brains of Ford all over some well-to-do guests at a cocktail party. Did she do this of her own volition? I don’t know but I could have sworn I saw a twinkle in the eye of Ford (or was that a round making an exit wound) as he raised his glass to toast like he knew exactly what was about to happen.
The Man in Black/William (Ed Harris)
Let us not forget what we already were shown in Season 1, that William is the same person as the man in black separated by about 30 years. Remember we were running two different timelines (at least); and, in one, we have a nice light-haired kid (William) who wants to be respectful of the park and be a gentleman. And, on the other, we have a man [in Black], going to and fro trying to figure out some maze, and who just wants the hosts to fight back. We are left with the Man in Black at the cocktail party getting shot in the arm, to which we can tell he finds extreme delight in. He may finally have a game in which he wants to play.
Bernard (Jeffrey Wright)
Bernard is left at the cocktail party with maybe some insight into what is about to happen. We have no idea where Bernard will end up, or who will find out his dirty little secret. Remember a big secret of Bernard’s is that he is actually a host, who does the bidding (at least until the end of S1) of Ford.
Maeve (Thandie Newton)
Maeve has brought most of the lab/office down and is now boarded on a train to head to the real world. She decides last-minute after having seen a mother and a daughter on the train, to get off and go locate her daughter (who may or may not be “real”).
I hope this article gives you some insights as to the things that are coming and a little refresher or what you most likely have forgotten. Stay tuned as I cover this season and discuss further (on another post), all the new questions that arise in Season 2, and all the theories to go with it.
Enjoy and remember: “These violent delights, have violent ends.“