Wednesday 12 December 2018

Westworld season 2, episode 1 review: 'It’s thrilling, dazzlingly confident stuff'

Thandie Newton as Maeve in Westworld.
Thandie Newton as Maeve in Westworld.

Pat Stacey

The promise that “these violent delights have violent ends”, nicked from Shakespeare and recycled in Westworld, comes spectacularly true in the second season, which kicked-off on Sky Atlantic in the wee small hours of this morning and is repeated at the more civilised hour of nine o’clock tonight.

The body count, both human and host, in the blood-spattered first episode is huge. The violent delight for we critics is that we were given the first five episodes – half the season – in advance. It leaves us with a dilemma, though: what to give away without giving away anything.

What I can say is that anyone frustrated with the puzzle-box structure of season one will be happier this time. The non-linear structure hasn’t been abandoned – there are still multiple timelines.

However, now that we know a) William and The Man in Black are one and the same and b) Jeffrey Wright is playing two characters – park co-creator Arnold Weber and Bernard Lowe, the android host

created by his departed partner Robert Ford (the departed-from-the-cast Anthony Hopkins) in his image – we always know, with crystal clarity, where and when we are, and why.

There’s a different style of storytelling this time, flitting between the characters dispersed around the vast park. Maeve (Thandie Newton) is searching for her daughter. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), instigator of the host uprising, is now ferociously gathering together her forces to repay her former masters after a long, ageless life lived on an infinite loop.

Westworld is cracking open to show us what’s in the rest of the park, and what’s beyond it. It’s thrilling, dazzlingly confident stuff, but it’s not giving all its secrets away cheaply. There are some wonderful surprises in the hours to come.

Read more: Can Westworld fill the void when Game of Thrones bows out?

‘Waited a year and a half just to get confused by Westworld again’ - Nobody knew what was going on in season premiere 

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