Warner Bros.Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in the Blog Post. The opinions shared are his own.
I was a bit lukewarm on the first season of HBO’s Westworld. I didn’t feel that it really brought about anything new in regards to the theory of artificial intelligence rebelling against its creator(s), but there was plenty in which I got invested. It was mainly the star power - most notably Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton - that kept me tuning in, and I was interested in seeing where it was heading after that rather surprising season finale. I also dug the fact that this season was going to venture out into a different world known as Shogun World. So, imagine my surprise when, by the time I finished Season Two, I kind of shrugged and questioned if I should still continue with the series after this.
Season Two picks up immediately after the events of Season One. The robot uprising is in full force, and they are out for blood. All of the Delos employees have no clue how to handle this and begin fleeing for their lives. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is the leader of the uprising and isn’t afraid to take out anyone who crosses her path. Wood’s performance is still captivating to watch, as is that of Newton, who returns as Maeve. Seeing her discovering the ability to control the robots, while she is also one, is an intriguing twist in the story.
The corporate overlords are still trying to maintain sanity within Delos, but it’s becoming more of a challenge. Things get worse when different parks begin to cross over into another. Hence why we have a subplot involving Shogun World. Some of the choreography is exquisite to watch, even if it is bombarded by Ramin Djawadi doing yet another cover of “Paint it Black,” but in Japanese fashion, or some other famous song that he tunes to fit the setting. It was fine in the first season, but it becomes a bit of a gimmick here.
As witnessed in the last season, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) is gone. Or is he? Ford keeps coming back and has conversations with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and William (Ed Harris). For some odd reason, the closed captioning still refers to William as “Man in Black,” when, in fact, his true identity was revealed in Season One. So the secret has been out for a while and doesn’t need to stay hidden.
Ford’s reappearances set up for some big plot reveals that become very exposition heavy and lack any major surprise that the showrunners had intended. Wright’s revelation about himself and, in particular, how he’s able to talk to Ford, is missing the big dramatic impact, especially for being one of the final moments of the season. It’s as if Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan figured that the viewers had become so confused by this certain point that everything had to be spelled out. That’s actually more frustrating.
Hopkins is fine in his reprisal of Ford, but he doesn’t seem to be carrying the same sinister effect that made him stand out in the first season. It could be because we know of his fate. Or the creators have something up their sleeve and plan on revealing it next season.
Season Two jumps from timeline to timeline so often that it’s easy to get confused. A lot of the main characters get long stories about them that are chopped up and inserted in between the show’s main story and other subplots that some get forgotten about. There are also a bunch of twists in regards to how certain characters you thought were human may actually not be. The show keeps raising the questions but doesn’t give you too many answers. It keeps reaching and reaching for more to the point in which you just want to throw in the towel. It’s still expertly designed and shot, but this season just feels like everything got jumbled, and the creative team couldn’t even figure out themselves where to take the series.
The Blu-ray for Season Two comes with all 10 episodes, presented in a 1080p High Definition, 16x9 format with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Although the season isn’t exactly great itself, it does look terrific on a nice, flat-screen television. It also sounds great with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. There are a bunch of features to dig into. One featurette called “Creating Westworld’s Reality” explores certain elements of each episode. “Bring Yourself Back Online” is a three-part segment that explores the characters’ love lives, the cast’s favorite moments, and how the show relates to what’s taking place in reality. “These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends” talks about the show’s use of violence, and “The Truth Behind Delos” explores the corporation and its motives.
I remember initially thinking that Westworld would work great as a miniseries. Now that we’ve completed the second season, that thought has come back to mind. Although the first season wasn’t great, it certainly didn’t feel as messy and confusing as the second season. I’m sure a third season is around the corner, so, hopefully, it will steer itself into the right direction. In the meantime, I’m going to be contemplating on just how badly I want to return to the series.