Mind bending spoilers below
Sometimes Westworld is hard to follow. Our characters are constantly questioning the Nature of their reality. Shifting perspectives have viewers asking themselves which point in the timeline they are actually seeing. At times it can seem overwhelmingly confusing. But confusing and manipulating what is or isn’t real is what the Westworld writers are all about.
For the the first few episodes of season two it seems that the shifiting timelines story device may not be a priority in producers Nolan and Joy’s plans. We were all deceived. After the first two or so episodes we were back to full on time shifting. Sometimes the show does confusing just for the sake of it, but generally it’s sense of confusion is for a good reason. The main charatcers of this season are Benard, Maive and Dolores. We join Bernard in a state of our confusion. We’re on the same journey of discovery that he is and we feel the impact of every revelation and secret as we delve further and further into the maze. Jeffrey Wright is magnificent in this role. Everything he does even down to the way he puts on his glasses seems to be intentional, giving us clues.
Dolores on the other hand is much harder to empathise with as she has gone full on dictator. It’s an amazing turn in her character arc, which is helped by how amazing Evan Rhachel Wood is. You really believe that Dolores’ narrative would change so drastically,mostly down to how good an actress she is. I was actually surprised how much I dislike Dolores in this season. She does some horrible things, including mass murder, betrayal and of course changing Teddy’s narrative to something that she deems to be more helpful. There were points that full on wanted her to fail in her mission, which at the end of season one I thought would be impossible. What she does to the guests and even worse to Teddy is unforgivable. She’s been taken over by the need for vengeance and can only see one path forward, one reality if you will.
Maive on the other hand is driven by the need to find her daughter. She had the opportunity to leave the park at the end of season 1, but chose to stay. However, this season she has a new trick. Somehow her code has evolved in a way that she can control other hosts, as long as they are not ‘woke’. This obviously comes in very useful, but only gets her so far before she’s mortally injured. This is made even more impactful by the fact she finds her daughter before she’s taken away again. Maive is a nice middle ground between Dolores and Bernard. Bernard doesn’t really know who he is truly, Dolores knows who’s she is, who she was and who she wants to be. She’s just full of hate and can only accept the reality she seems to be ‘real’. Maive on the other hand is fully woke, but has chosen to leave things like hate and revenge of the masters behind. Although she does make an exception for the Man in Black.
Ah yes the Man in Black\William. We finally get a true sense of what makes him tick. Maybe literally. Still on a mission to get to the middle of the maze, or what he sees as the true purpose of the park, we are now allowed to see what happened to his wife, brother and father in law. Their fates while not all down to his actions, were also not helped by them. He has a darkness inside that we now know is his true nature. If this was in the great show Hannibal, we’d say William was his ‘human suit’. He goes down to the deepest depths of his nature here, even killing his own daughter (maybe). It’s down to the greatness of Harris that we still get to see glimmers of humanity under the surface.
What makes this season even better than the first is the writers willingness to take risks with characters and story. The decision to change Dolores’ character so much and expanding the timelines even more must have been something heavily discussed in the writers room. They have gone the easy route and gone to a more regular show, where season 2 would have been about guests in peril and their rescue. But the writers have much greater aspirations for the show than that. This is a show on another level when it comes to story telling. By the end we’re nowhere where we thought we would be and it’s all the better for it.