Westworld (2016-) Season 2
Westworld (2016-) Season 2 review
Westworld is an HBO series that follows a massive ‘theme park’ for rich guests that consists of a Western world run by artificial hosts that is meant to be a consequence-free experience. However the when the hosts begin to become self-aware, as robots do, the situation begins to spiral out of control. The series is based on the 1973 cult classic of the same name, and is saw its third season premier this past weekend. I however just finished season two because, after I got behind. I saw no huge rush until this month. How is Season 2 you ask? Well if you are asking that you probably saw Season 1, which was pretty great! So to answer that question, it’s like taking a step down, but its not as big a step as it looked, so you get a bit disoriented, and now you don’t know how to walk.
Now I don’t know if that made sense or not, but my point was, ah it’s good, not great. One of the few complaints I heard, and voiced, about the first season was that from A to Z, not a lot happened. Sure everything that happened was compelling and arguably for the good of the show and the characters within, but there were times where it felt like the writers were saying more than they had to because they are good at dialogue, which dang it they are! Season 2, with a few episodes as standout exceptions, is full of this kind of time-wasting. That kind of writing has its place, whether for worldbuilding, character building, or even philosophizing in a show like this. But dang it Dolores, I already know what drives you! Can we move on please? There are just so many long sequences that dead end in this season that I can’t help but think they didn’t know what Z was as they started from A. Who knows, maybe they do and I’ll look back on this and say I was stupid and all of this long drawn out dialogue was for a good reason, but as of right now, there is plenty in this show that does not matter.
The characters themselves were another complaint I had coming out of the second season. Most of them are still fairly interesting, and the performances behind all of them are of course great as usual, but by the end of the season I felt unresolved with many of their arcs. Sure it’s a season finale not a series finale, but I never finished a season of Game of Thrones asking myself what the heck Jon Snow’s arc was about this season. Until the end… Westworld’s first season brought their characters on a very interesting journey, taking them from one state of mind to a totally different one in the end. However I don’t feel like Season 2 got very much done in that regard. The show was more focused on contemplation and reveals than it was on working in growth for people we already know. So while I lived watching Ed Harris’s Man in Black this season, I rolled my eyes every time Dolores showed up. Also I think they quickly kill off a supporting character and don’t focus on it. Not okay. If they are dead I don’t know because they just yada-yada’d over it!
Okay so that was all nice and negative, but the season did have some good elements to it for sure! Of course there’s the production design and editing and Ramin Djawadi’s incredible score as always, but the worldbuilding actually stole the show for me. A few episodes go on a rabbit trail that I just did not want to leave! This lead to even more humor, action, adventure, drama, ect. that we haven’t had a fresh dose of since Hector’s introduction. Everything in the show just felt like meaningless gunshots for so long that I forgot what a variety of violence felt like. These tangents were very welcome! In fact there’s an entire episode dedicated to a character we barely know, and it might be one of the best of the season. Probably because it made more sense than all the flashbacks about William’s dad or whatever. Plus I enjoyed several of the reveals I think I made fun of earlier. The show certainly knows how to keep you hooked, and when its not going on and on about violent delights, it’s quite compelling. But I think this might hurt the show by next season. They introduce ideas that might take away from the overall narrative, and I don’t know if they will keep them up or not. On the one hand, you can give your audience what they want and hurt the writing, or you can take away something we don’t know very well yet in the name of staying on track. I don’t know, maybe they’ll find a way to balance these elements as well as this season did.
Overall though, I did enjoy the season. Not as much as the first, but close. I found some of the character arcs still fascinating, and the expanded world was very enjoyable to watch. Sure I hated a few characters, several stories went nowhere, and one editing element drove me nuts, but I quite invested in this show, and I think mainly because of the newer elements. New characters, setting, ideas- these things kept me hooked much more than the holdover arcs from last season. But I think overall of if you liked the first season of Westworld, you should keep watching. Season 2 was solid, and I am looking forward to the third season which I am sure I will start tonight! Overall, I bought Season 2 for $10 and didn’t feel like it was overpriced, so that’s still a good 7/10 from me. (Honestly that might change depending on where they go with the things I loved about the season, but I’m being optimistic.)
So Westworld? Are you caught up? What do you think so far? And do you have any Season 3 predictions you’d like to share? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And hey Westworld not your scene, well we have the new season reviews of Doctor Who and Castlevania out this week, so be sure to check those out as well!
-review by Ryan Prince