The disturbing AI theme park is back, and Season 2 promises even more intense storylines. HBO’s sci-fi-western series wrapped up Season 1 with some serious mind-bending that left many viewers stunned and desperate for the next season.
“Westworld” is an amusement park for wealthy people looking for an unusual vacation experience. The park, which boasts AI robots dubbed “hosts,” allows visitors to live out their most illicit fantasies. There are no consequences for the park’s guests, and that is the main draw of it. No matter what the fantasy is, the guests can indulge themselves without consequences.
Based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 “Westworld” film, the HBO series remake has almost equaled “Game of Thrones” most-watched first season. “Westworld” contrasts reality and fantasy, as well as the ethical conflicts of the scientists and their creations.
In fact, one element that “Westworld” accomplishes so well is that the viewer connects with the hosts more so than the human creators. And when the hosts begin their violent uprising, audiences watched with both horror and a sense that perhaps the world would be better with the automatons in charge.
After all, the park visitors and bosses subject the hosts to all manners of degradation and violence, and after each one meets a brutal end, the designers repair them; they wipe all memory banks clean, and they send out the hosts to repeat their assigned roles.
However, soon the designers begin to notice glitches in the automatons — a kind of android dementia that they think is the beginning of emerging consciousness in the AIs.
The park’s founder and visionary, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), recognizes that this glitch is not necessarily a failure in their design systems. Dr. Ford remarks, “Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: the mistake.” His haunting statement showed that Ford was more enthralled than alarmed at the prospect of sentience in the hosts.
Eventually, the hosts start to remember certain events and attain self-awareness. Here, “Westworld” takes viewers on a moral rollercoaster ride. After all, the allure of the park is that the hosts are unable to feel suffering.
Many of the repeat visitors, notably The Man in Black (played with unnerving menace by Ed Harris), get off on the pain and torment of the robots. The Man in Black even tells Dolores, the AI creation of an innocent rancher’s daughter played by Evan Rachel Wood, that it would not be as much fun if she didn’t resist the pain.
In this way, “Westworld” closely resembles “Blade Runner” in terms of the enslavement of the robots. For example, the bosses of the park decide to “retire” a host prostitute who fights back while being sexually assaulted, despite the programming that exists for all the hosts to never harm their human guests.
The human visitors and rulers in the park are an unpleasant bunch. The guests’ behavior runs the gamut from overt savagery to hedonism. Coupled with the corporate competitiveness and petty arguing between the park’s designers, managers and engineers, viewers have a hard time rooting for the humans in “Westworld.”
Season 2 will focus on the uprising but will also delve into the points-of-view of the hosts. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Evan Rachel Wood says that her character Dolores will be the “chess master” during season 2. “She has access to all of her memories, but now she’s in control.”
According to new details that HBO released on its faux Delos Destinations site, “Westworld” will feature a new theme park called Shogun World, which looks to be a just as thrilling as the previous theme park in Season 1. The site description teases, “For those of whom “Westworld” is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana.”
Further, viewers who have watched Season 1 know that the series was extremely bloody and violent. Apparently, the gore was just a warm-up for the showrunners because Season 1 had some very nasty characters.
While the series creators set “Westworld” Season 1 within a Wild West themed park, the show revealed that guests can actually visit other worlds, such as Roman World and Medieval World. Additionally, Shogun World, modeled after Japan’s Edo period, offers guests the chance to embrace their inner warrior.
Season 2 will pick up after the uprising and will undoubtedly follow suit with its trademark labyrinthine narratives. Also, season 2 will bring the viewer into the perspective of the newly-conscious hosts, which will be intertwined with the unique narrative structure of the show.
Dolores, whose character morphed from a naïve farm girl to a remorseless punisher, will be at the helm of the rebellion. Along with soldiers sent by the corporation to squash the uprising, the other hosts are not all on board with the revolution. These elements will add intensity to the storylines and raise the stakes for the characters.
In addition, viewers can expect many flashback sequences. A young Dr. Ford, as well as Delos founder James Delos, will be back for Season 2. The flashbacks will serve as backstory for the characters in question and will delve into their psyches and motivations.
Fans will expect the same entertaining plot structure, cerebral storytelling and intense character studies in Season 2 of “Westworld” and will not be disappointed. According to fan theories, there may be clues that offer even more insight into what is in store for viewers.
Season 2 of “Westworld” premiers on April 22 on HBO. You can stream the series from any device using HBOGO. There will also be special theater screenings in select cities before the official release date.