Having enjoyed season 1 of Westworld so much, I was hoping for good things with this 70-minute opener to season 2. Oops. I’m sad to say there wasn’t a single likeable character in the whole piece. There was no moral dilemma to keep us wondering what we’d do ourselves in such a scenario. There was no satire of human behaviour. There were only very brief moments of humour or irony…
And then there was the so-called plot. We followed Bernard in two different timelines/iterations (as a military team arrived in Westworld to clean up the chaos and mess that followed the season 1 finale)… but the two narratives didn’t illuminate each other or provide interesting juxtaposition or create any proper mystery for us to try and solve… they just kept us permanently confused and bewildered about what was going on. And Bernard was either silent, forgetful or malfunctioning… so we couldn’t engage with him either.
Sitting through 70 minutes of that? It’s asking a lot. Look, a season opener is meant to grab us and get us onboard for the ride. It can’t trade on our liking season 1 for long. If episode 2 doesn’t deliver, then I fear people will be switching off in droves.
Beyond Bernard, we followed Thandie Newton’s character for a bit (she’s still looking for her daughter, like in season 1, so nothing new there) and the character of Delores (intent on revenging herself on humans, like in season 1, so nothing new there either). And The Man in Black… who instead of finding the labyrinth (which he failed to do in season 1) now has to find some unexplained door, apparently, but we don’t know why. Sheesh.
Saving graces? Hmm. Well, it’s all beautifully filmed and produced. There are some high concept bits here and there (although they’re very much thrown away). There are plenty of tantalising (if ultimately frustrating) allusions and references for us to ponder (though I’m not sure we care enough to do so). There are a few new characters… although they’re nowhere near rounded enough.
Let’s just hope it’s a false start and that things improve next episode. After all, season 1 had the odd duff episode too. I’m willing to give them another chance… just because I can see they’re working hard at it. Yes, I think that is actually the thing that gives me hope.