Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
based on Westworld (1973) by Michael Crichton
We are about half way through the second season (The Door) and so far Westworld has accomplished a couple of difficult tricks for a show to pull off. Firstly a good adaptation from book or film to TV, and secondly, maintaining a quality second season after a jaw-dropping first. Admittedly, and it is some testament to the Golden Age of content in which we live, Westworld is hardly alone in this for 2018 (The Handmaid’s Tale and Legion spring to mind), but it’s still the exception rather than the rule.
To do this Westworld had to slightly shift its focus slightly, no longer able to rely on the amazing temporal trick that was at the heart of season one (the dual time-lines of younger and older William). However it is still mixing up the chronology of it’s story-telling, as we see the main body of the Delos rescue team encounter Bernard before flashing back to events directly after the season one finale. This will likely pay off down the track, but for the moment the bulk of the tale is split between the various characters – Older William (Ed Harris) unraveling Ford’s final game, Mauve (Thandie Newton) quest for her daughter, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) leading an armed host uprising, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) flitting between different narratives as he comes to terms with his sentience. Add to this flashbacks that give an insight into the construction of Westworld and the plans that Delos have, and season two more than continues the rich and complex narrative that season one has built.
It also expands the world we see, both in terms of the outside world, and in terms of the world within the park. As hinted at in the season one finally, Westworld is far from the only amusement on offering in the park, and seeing some of these other worlds is a sheer joy. Part of this joy is also hearing what composer Ramin Djawadi can do with an expanded range of musical styles and instruments. After all, who doesn’t want to hear Paint It Black scored with a bamboo flute?
Westworld remains true to those core elements set up in the first season. It is still a hyper-violent Western, allowing for an exploration into human cognition, our engagement with fantasy, and looking at the ethical issues that will arise from humanity’s technological advancement. After all, we may have issues with the cruelty employed by Delores as she wages her war this season, yet what else is Wyatt but a Spartacus for android slaves? We can argue method (and ep205 certainly gives us reason for that), but her cause is just.
All of which whets our appetites for what is to follow. With a plethora of questions unanswered, the mystery of what “the maze” unlocked is still being relieved. For certain, this season still has a lot of surprises left, and some excellent viewing still to show. Happy trails.