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'Westworld' season 2: the droids take over

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Westworld’s season two première raises more questions, but the plot and characterisation seem more well-oiled than in season one

The first season of Westworld, which came out over a year ago, invited a mix of awe and squeamishness from audiences and critics. Its setting — a futuristic park, made up of androids modelled on humans, that allows the paying public to live out their fantasies — intrigued all of us, but the show’s portrayal of rape and brutality raised eyebrows.

Personally, I took a while to truly begin to appreciate the show, once the complex plot ceased to be entirely indigestible, and layers started emerging.

Season two premièred earlier this week and it hits the right notes from the get-go. The story remains complicated as ever — the first episode jumps between different timelines, there are multiple tracks unfolding simultaneously, and creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy continue to shroud several aspects of the show under a cloak of mystery.

Nolan, especially, is a master at weaving seemingly unfathomable plots in his feature films, before revealing his cards in a manner that makes everything fall in place (Memento, anyone?). But bringing that craft to a TV show requires continued perseverance and genius, and the two directors seem to be up for the task. In fact, they seem to be getting better at it.

Those who watched the first season (and there are spoilers ahead, if you haven’t) would know that it ended with a couple of massive revelations, and on a note where the androids staged a coup against the humans in the park. Two of those androids are women — Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) — and after a season of watching them undergo continued subjugation, it is wonderful to now see them lead the resistance.

Dolores seems to be revelling in her newfound freedom, and returns the favour by inflicting pain on the humans she comes across in the park, while Maeve gets to spout witty one-liners. The creator of the park, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), who Dolores shot at the end of the last season seems to be truly dead (but in Westworld, you never really know), while Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) — an android who humans believe to be one of them — has to figure out a way to save the park from complete disintegration.

Meanwhile, newer details emerge. Very little is known about the corporation that owns the park, and the season opener promises a better understanding of the organisation in future episodes. Plus, the episode makes a couple of references to the presence of other similar parks, thus opening the possibility of life outside Westworld, which could translate into new characters and fresh storylines. More importantly, the pace never drops this time; having dealt with the task of acclimatising viewers with the universe of the show, the writers now seem to be only focussing on plot, which is never a bad thing.

Now, we can expect bigger revelations and more plot twists — after all, in a show where you can’t tells droids and humans apart, anything is possible.

Westworld is available for streaming on Hotstar.

 

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 5:37:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/aniruddha-guha-on-westworld/article23695794.ece

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