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Westworld's new season is bloodier and even more meta

The new season of Westworld has already cost me two sleepless nights, plus my MacBook Pro has found a new voice and now she yearns for glory.

HBO/Composite by Aaron Robinson

I watched a lot of Westworld in a very short amount of time. And I took pages and pages of notes on each episodes and was carefully tracking all of the theories and ideas I had as I watched. I had high hopes of sharing all of the twists and turns with you as they arrive in the show irl (no spoilers or Rickrolls here, I promise). 

And then my computer decided it, too, was ready to be awake and took a long jump off a short bed.

Yes, I am somewhat kidding (unless my computer can read this, in which case, let's talk)... OK, seems nothing happened there so we're probably fine. But it really did tumble off my bed, and it really did nearly die. Lest you think this is a joke, let me assure you, it is sadly not. 

sad-computadora

It looks like a lot of something terrible to me, actually.

Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

My own clumsiness aside, Westworld's season two begins on a strong note by feeding fans the answers to several fan theories right away. Immediate gratification is always nice, even if the rest of the opener simply manages to raise more questions about the entire story.

The HBO series is, of course, loosely based on the 1973 Westworld film, from the mind of Michael Crichton. While it draws from the same storyline, season one of the show proved it is anything but a follower. The GameSpot video below outlines the season quite well for you if you need a refresher, but the TL;DR is when we ended season one, the robot uprising was just beginning. 

Self-made woman Maeve (Thandie Newton) was questioning her decisions, then truly making choices on her own. Outside the Mesa, starting with Dolores/Wyatt (played by Evan Rachel Wood), the hosts were staging a revolt with the Delos board of directors and all their guests set to be the prey. All season, this is exactly what the Man in Black (Ed Harris) had been working toward, and it seemed he was getting his greatest wish. (For a full list of returners, here's everything we know about season two so far.)

But in ultimate "be careful what you wish for" fashion, the Man in Black is caught in a fight immediately. We know Harris is back as Old William this season, so it should not be a spoiler when I tell you... I think he's alive? (Who can never be sure in Westworld.)

To paraphrase what one friend asked me, whether you watch the show for the cinematic experience or to simply figure out the story first, there is definitely something for you in season two. The premiere has nods to classic Westerns, and by episode five the series is nodding at its former self in a satisfying and delightful way. 

Put another way, I want to dissect every episode with you all right now but that would spoil the fun (and my computer just can't handle it). So, here are some wide, sweeping categorizations for you:

  • Season two is just as timey-whimey as we've come to expect. You will still be constantly trying to figure out the timeline, and it will definitely still need constant tweaking to make every theory we have fit. (Have no fear, our Morning After After Show will help beginning April 23; subscribe to our limited-edition Westworld newsletter for more info.) 
  • Memories are still a bitch-and-a-half to sort through, and new looks at the internal workings of the hosts gives us a better idea of why time is so hard to decipher. The show's creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy recently held an AMA on Reddit, and in between the shitposting (sorry, still bitter about the spoiler threat), touched on some key points about memories, what is real, and what it means to be conscious. I recommend checking out the full conversation, but one of the most important parts is this answer from Lisa Joy:

Dolores in season one is a host who is trying to understand her world and remember her past. But host recall is not like human recall. When she remembers the past, she remembers a "full rendering" of it. Every detail, every nuance, every smell, sound, sight, and feeling is a precise recreation. What characterizes human memory, for me, is degradation. We know we are in the "now" because the feeling of it is less degraded than the "then". But for hosts, each moment of the past is equally vibrant and clear -- so it's easy for them to get confused without a mechanism for marking time. So when the Season 1 twist for Dolores occurs -- it was a logical offshoot of her struggle to orient herself in the stream of time.

  • This version of Westworld is perhaps even more mysterious than last season's The Maze. With growth comes questions, and the parks are very, very large this season. As we all hunt for the Door and a certain father figure, the layers only get larger.
  • You will have far too many short- and long-term theories before the end of episode one, Journey Into Night and that's OK! What's great about this season is that many are answered shortly thereafter. There is definitely a season(s?)-long mystery awaiting us underneath it all, but the near future brings some quick answers.
  • Reality is... flexible, and each person, host and being must define for themselves what is "real."

I watch Westworld because it's beautiful, innovative and strikingly cinematic. Above all that though, I will admit I love the puzzles. I love discovering that the park can't possibly be as small as we've been led to believe; following along as Bernarnold is confirmed (as are so many Bernarnolds); watching Ford's narrative expand and take on new life; and other even crazier ideas. 

That's part of why it's been so hard for me to tell you about season two today; I don't want to wax poetic about it at you, I want to theorize and argue about it with you all

And me, oh my, there is more than enough fodder for that this season, so strap in.

Westworld season two begins April 22 in the US on HBO, while the UK and Australia get it on April 23 on Sky Atlantic and Foxtel, respectively.

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Everything Westworld: A spoiler-free look at everything we know about season two of the hit HBO show.