HBO’s Westworld was one of the biggest hits on the network in 2016. Full of twists, character development, sex, science fiction, and more all based on a simple premise; Visit a theme park where you can do whatever you want. I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of season one once I realized what was going on. Full of blatant and also subtle messages of feminism, deception, alternating timelines, and the darkness within human nature, Westworld Season One was a dream. After an explosive season one finale and every episode being so well written, I was left wondering exactly where could the next season go and how could you possibly top something that’s already amazing?
Season Two has a ton of shit going on.
Dolores, (Evan Rachel Wood), is readying an army of hosts, (androids), for an uprising against humans and her lover Teddy is not spared from her desire for change. Maeve, (Thandie Newton), is still searching for her daughter within Westworld and her journey unlocks so much character development, violence, and more abilities only she can do, (much more on that later). Bernard is…honestly his storyline is doing the goddamn most and yet also the least simultaneously. I cannot properly describe what the hell is going on on his side of things even after watching the season finale. The Man in Black, (William), is still on a quest that leads him to multiple answers about himself and the world around him.
The themes in this season are so much stronger and previously introduced side characters get the screen and story time that I didn’t know I needed. One of the more prominent themes I sense is feminism. Taking apart Dolores and Maeve could be a whole college course. Their race, their background, their reasons for violence, and their definition of freedom have tons of room for psychological probing putting the rest of the show aside.
The storyline of Dolores prior to her awakening was tragic; seeing her father and lover killed, then she is beaten, raped, murdered with little variation. Her outlook on human life is regrettably correct; Humans can be monsters and more often than not. Outside of perhaps Bernard, she has seen the human world and has a grasp on the darkness within human nature. However it becomes clear that Dolores has a darkness within herself as it becomes apparent that will kill whoever and manipulate whoever to get what she desires.
Maeve on the other hand was once a mother and died attempting to save her daughter prior to being the headmistress of a saloon with prostitutes. It’s quite interesting by itself that her story-line changed so drastically to sex work when considering her blackness and the dark American history of slavery and human trafficking. Being separated from loved ones was nowhere near uncommon and happens even now when women are torn from their families into human trafficking. All of these things are important to note as I watched the show since I can also see hints of comparing white feminism to womanism. Dolores wants freedom her way and will go to lengths of permanently altering whoever she needs to, (RIP Teddy. You were a good man), whereas Maeve consistently offers the freedom of choice to join her efforts of escape and only uses her mind control to escape death.
Another theme explored is family. Maeve’s devotion to finding her daughter is probably the best reflection of this theme that Season 2 has to offer after that it gets dark. In Episode 9, we get a huge chunk of the time spent in the past with William’s wife learning why she committed suicide; William’s absence and stories of his doings in Westworld have driven her to suffer from alcoholism and depression. Sticking around for decades out of true love for him has ran out after she finally sees recordings of his time in Westworld and leaves the file behind for her daughter before ultimately ending her life. This is important considering his daughter appears in Westworld and from the after-credits scene, I’m left with a huge feeling I can only describe as being mind-fucked.
The larger theme of the show is the definition of freedom of choice. Dolores robs some of being given a choice while Maeve is often the opposite but on a larger scale, combined with human nature do we really have freedom? The theme park Westworld was constructed and received founding on that basis but we learn in Season Two that it still comes at a price; Every Westworld guests is secretly being recorded. Guests can literally do whatever they want to the androids when they arrive which in turn speaks about who the person really is. The saying, “who you really are is the person you are when no one is watching” becomes manipulated into “who you really are is the person you are when you think no one is watching”. Of course, the secret experiment breaks all kinds of laws but the results begs to question do humans really need free will? But most importantly, is there really even a such thing as freedom? Or maybe it’s more so, what would you do when you’re offered complete freedom?
Season Two of Westworld managed to be even better than season one as it explores multiple themes like family, feminism, freedom, and much more but left me with so many questions than I had before. There’s so much going on in the show that I didn’t even touch especially not Bernard because why would I do that? I love myself too much to get any further into the confusion of his storyline. Even more twists, graphic violence, and psychological themes are clearly the future of HBO’s Westworld by the season finale but do we really need more of this sci-fi series?
Yes. Yes we do.
Rating: 9 out of 10