*WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR BOTH SEASON 1 AND SEASON 2*
Westworld is back and just as confusing, fascinating, and entertaining as ever. Season 1 ended with the assassination of Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), Park Director, by Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), the park’s most notable host who has come to realize what the nature of her reality is. From this point on, it is a battle between the hosts, who want to escape Westworld and destroy it, and the humans, who want to regain control of Westworld and destroy the hosts. Within this battle, there are several storylines involving the main characters from Season 1. William aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is trying to win Ford’s “game” as he searches all over Westworld to find the true meaning behind it. Meanwhile, Dolores and Teddy are rounding up the other hosts as they try to battle back and escape Westworld. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) finds Elsie, a Westworld employee in the programming division who was lost in Season 1, and the two try to figure out what is causing the abnormal behavior of the hosts. Finally, Maeve (Thandi Newton) is on a mission to find her daughter once she realizes her past.
One of the most interesting things about this season is the revelation of the true purpose of Westworld. The idea of Westworld is not solely a park where guests can do whatever they want consequence-free, but rather a venue in which to collect data about the hosts experiences and decisions. All of this time, it wasn’t the hosts that were being monitored and studied, it was the guests. What the was the reason for this? Something that humans have been trying to figure out since the dawn of time: how to achieve immortality. By obtaining a comprehensive data set of an individual’s every move and decision within a world where that individual does not know they are being monitored and there are no consequences, the Westworld scientists can develop an accurate profile of who that person really is. Once that profile is created, it can be programmed into a host body effectively allowing that person’s consciousness to live forever in a body identical to their physical one but indestructible. However, we see during the season that experiments to make this happen repeatedly fail – the human consciousness cannot survive long-term within a host body. The reason for this is revealed in the season finale, which is one of my favorite episodes of television.
In the season finale, Bernard and Elsie discover The Forge within Westworld, where all of the guests data is being tracked and stored. In The Forge, they meet a host version of Logan Delos, son of James Delos of Delos Inc., the company that owns Westworld. He explains the reason that the experiments to recreate humans in host bodies failed was because the code in the hosts was too complex. Humans, he says, have a very simple code and are not as complex as we might think. This idea also leads into the main theme of this season overall: free will vs. determinism. Westworld argues that it is in fact the hosts that have free will and the humans that have a predetermined destination. This helps explain why the hosts were ultimately able to become self-aware and change their destiny from a repeated loop of timelines within Westworld to one where they chose to break out of that loop and seek the real world. On the other end, the experiments to replicate humans in host bodies always resulted in that human arriving at the same destination every time, suggesting that we don’t have the ability to determine our final destination even if we do have the ability to make choices along the way.
Once again, Westworld does a phenomenal job in exploring the very fundamental concepts of human nature in a way that we have never seen before. The show takes a deep dive at exploring what truly makes us human, and questions what the line is between human being and artificial intelligence. I think this is a fascinating concept to think about while living in a world where virtual reality is becoming more and more enhanced, slowly blurring the line between what is real and what isn’t. Throughout this whole season, you began to question who was real and who was a host. You couldn’t make any assumptions, but instead had to really pay attention to every move and every decision that was being made. This season was certainly very confusing at times, constantly jumping between different timelines, so I often had to read articles and analysis after each episode explaining what happened. However, I really enjoyed the season overall and am very excited for Season 3.
Let me know your thoughts about this season in the comments down below.