Spoiler-Free Review: Westworld‘s Season 2 Premiere a Slow-Burn Start to a Fascinating New Story
Westworld Season Two premieres this weekend after way too long a wait, and TMS will be getting back to its regular coverage! Thanks to HBO, we got an advance peek at the first episode of the new season. Get ready for quite a ride, people! [**This is a spoiler-free review, but I will be talking about who’s in the episode and scratching the surface of basic plot points.**]
We begin in the immediate aftermath of the end of Season One. The hosts are waking up, and are coming for, or working beside the humans in different ways. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) seems to be experiencing the story much the same way that Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) did in Season One, even asking the question, “Is this now?” We see snippets of what must be future episodes of the show as Bernard navigates through a nebulous present, one in which he must do everything he can to keep the fact that he’s a host a secret from the Delos Corporation, who are apparently unaware of him.
We begin to get to know Delos Corporation a little better, first in the form of Head of Operations Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård), who has arrived with a private armed security team to suss out what happened on the island where Westworld sits. Bernard watches in horror as the Delos team indiscriminately execute hosts.
We also see Bernard seemingly further back in time (or forward? Who knows anymore), teaming up with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) shortly after Dolores-as-Wyatt shot and killed Robert Ford. Struggling to keep the fact that he’s a host a secret, Bernard follows Charlotte and a small group of escaped Delos board members into hiding as they try to protect themselves against the host revolt. Charlotte also reveals little tidbits of information about Delos’ true motives. Not enough to keep us satisfied, of course, but something.
Meanwhile, Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) ride through the fields, Teddy looking concerned as Dolores picks off “guests” with a rifle. When she confronts a group of guests face to face, and they tremble in fear of their lives, Dolores presents them with her “several minds about” what to do with them.
The Rancher’s Daughter in her wants to see the good in them. The Wyatt in her only sees the ugliness and wants to shoot them dead…but there’s a third option. Something that’s not a program. Something new. Something she’s never had the power to be before: herself. That third option is fascinating, and I can’t wait to spend the season plumbing the depths of Dolores.
And then there’s Maeve (Thandie Newton) who, in the first conscious decision she ever made, decided to get off the train to the outside world and stay in Westworld to find her daughter, knowing full well that nothing about her life with her daughter is “real.” She and game designer Lee Sizemore become an odd paring as she decides to use him to help her navigate the park to find her child.
Lastly, there’s The Man in Black, who is struggling to make sense of the new world order only to find out that this game is indeed for him.
Just as the Westworld pilot was a slow burn leading up to Dolores slapping the fly on her neck, which subtly let us know the kind of ride we’d be in for, this episode is, too, as they lay the foundation for each of these main characters. It all builds to an intriguing crescendo that will likely have you impatient for Episode Two, as I already am.
We have yet to see some of the major characters, and there will likely be plenty of new introductions as the show continues and we get to see the scope of the park(s), but this first episode of the season will give you plenty to chew on as you wait. Westworld is back! And considering the complexity and nuance already exhibited in this first episode, it’s shaping up to be better than ever.
Oh, and BTW: there’s gore. Like, digging into brains kind of gore. So, you know, be prepared. Because eew.
Westworld Season Two premieres SUNDAY, APRIL 22nd at 9PM ET on HBO.
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