HBO’s Westworld returns with a very appropriately titled, and more enjoyable, second episode of the new season.
We catchup with a pair of young businessmen before and after their fateful trip to the park, see many original hosts in very different roles, and even have time to get in a super cool cameo or two. El Lazo! Game of Thrones isn’t the only HBO show that believes one must go back to move ahead. I bet Daenerys Targaryen and Dolores would get on like a house (and everything else) on fire. You can ship characters from different shows, right?
Spoilers ahead, cowpokes.
It’s so jarring seeing Dolores and the rest of the host cast in modern clothes—like seeing your math teacher at a Costco, doing normal people stuff.
There isn’t much we can glean about the hosts’ creators’ world, i.e. the world of our old friend Arnold and Dr. Ford, from this cityscape. We’re in the past, before the park, before Arnold’s son Charlie died. Even before Arnold fully discovered that the hosts are sentient, he does appear to see his creations as superior to humans in their appreciation for, as Dolores would be scripted to say, the beauty in this world. Project much, Arnold?
It’s clearer now that Dolores was always Arnold’s favorite, but even she could not give him what he was looking for: meaning. And this was even before Arnold’s family suffers their tragedy. Scientists in existential crisis mode rarely lead anywhere good.
But what more are we learning about Dolores here, really? Maybe at one point she was really as innocent and naive in her new sentience as her rancher’s daughter character and now we are juxtaposing it with the killer she has become. I mean, if she told any of the park visitors that she was sentient and independent, I’m sure some would feel guilty, stop, and they would join her side. And, much like Grand Theft Auto, not everyone goes on a rampage in Free Roam Mode—sometimes you just want to paint watercolors and play some poker.
But then you see young William calling Dolores “a thing… a reflection” even as she is prepared to look for answers to a question no one has asked before and you are confronted with the impact of traumatic memory.
Again, without knowing anything of the world outside of the park, if word got out that a new class of intelligent being was being held in slavery, you can bet there would be protests. I hope the circle around the park widens more in these flashbacks so we know more about the future. And, from there, more about the reality that William is denying.
But, hey, I love a party scene. And it was kinda oddly good to see Logan again. He seemed like less of a dick, but maybe that’s because he was turning on the charm and flirting with a cute guy when we first meet him.
Did you think that everyone at that party was a host? I definitely knew the guy who later played the Confederado general was a host because I remembered him from Justified, but that’s cheating. I really wasn’t expecting the Argos Initiative rep (Zahn McClarnon) to be a host. How can hosts pitch businessmen on the idea of hosts without causing a cognitive conflict? Maybe the answer is that it does ultimately cause a conflict, as we see in that jarring cut from radiant host Angela getting out of bed with Logan and jumping to the next scene of Angela post-rebellion, post-murder of a human.
She seems glitchy. I like her and the Hannibal fan in me likes her flower crown.
The Man in Black gets a few reunions in this hour, too; first up is his long-suffering tour guide, Lawrence. He uses a cheat code to… remove his data recorder maybe? I wasn’t clear until we got the flashback of William and his father-in-law debating the merits of buying a world where people are anonymously honest and terrible. (I guess Twitter wasn’t around in this reality? Buying Westworld sure seems elaborate and expensive when we already have working spyware and cookie tracking, but whatever, then we’d have no story, right?) The Man in Black sure loves speechifying as much as his robo-ex. Long story short: he needs an army, same as Dolores, same as Maeve, in order to survive the new stakes of the park.
The Man in Black’s army might once have come with…Gustavo Fring!!!! Oh man, what an amazing choice for El Lazo. That voice. I swoon. An outlaw in search of a real victory, or a real ending. Dammit, how mean is Dr. Ford, to give us Giancarlo Esposito and then snatch him away?! The Man in Black might be moving onto the scene of “his biggest mistake,” but HBO is making a mistake if they don’t bring back El Lazo. But that bullet in the head did seem kind of final. Boooo.
How bad is Teddy’s day? Finds out he’s a robot and his girlfriend is a violent dictator and, maybe it was just me, but I could see the tiniest crack form in their bond. His narrative was once to kill Wyatt, so, now that Wyatt is kinda, sorta Dolores, I expect Teddy to make a hopeless plea to her unwanted humanity before she uses the “weapon” William showed her way back when.
Once again, Maeve steals the damn show. And cuts through all the bullshit. Loved that little standoff. Maeve bows to no man or woman. Intersectional activism or GTFO, Dolores. Thandie Newton wasn’t in this episode nearly enough.
If it comes to warring host factions, I am Team Maeve all the way.
- Logan seems very anti-artificial intelligence after his Westworld misadventures. Bitter much? Or prescient? It was interesting to meet William’s wife and daughter. Very interesting looks between William and Dolores.
- I did not need to know that about fire ants.
- Zahn McClarnon! That was certainly a nice surprise. I had somehow missed he was in the new season, despite reports than his off-set head injury delayed production by a few weeks. But I can’t be mad at him; he was so freaking good in the second season of Fargo. Maybe he’ll make this show even better in its sophomore year, too. Can’t wait to see more of him as the leader of the Ghost Nation tribe.
- Next week: “Virtù e Fortuna.” Tyger, tyger burning bright…
Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for BoingBoing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via pony express or on Twitter.