Westworld Season 2 has been disappointing but the series still works thanks to some notable strengths keeping fans tuning in every week. The hype going into the second season of HBO's hit show about a futuristic theme park populated by sentient androids promised things would get "bigger and crazier". That promise has indeed been met as Westworld's scope has expanded and become even more outlandish.
However, the cost of this escalation of ambition is that Westworld has also become more convoluted. The series is now jumping between multiple timelines instead of Season 1's two primary frames, which is making the storylines harder for fans to follow and invest in. Similarly, the characters themselves are becoming more difficult to root for; Season 1 allowed viewers to sympathize with Hosts Dolores Abernathy and Maeve Millay's individual awakenings to their reality and cheer them on as they broke free from their narrative loops. As for human characters, it was fascinating to watch the younger William discover himself in his first visit to the park, which set him on his destiny to become the villainous Man in Black. In Season 2, the characters' goals are murkier and harder for the viewer to relate to.
Probably the most difficult character to follow in Season 2 is Bernard Lowe. The head of Delos' Programming Division has discovered that he is not only a Host recreation of park creator Robert Ford's partner Arnold Weber, but Bernard is now also malfunctioning. The bespectacled android is struggling to reconcile his disparate memories of violent acts he has committed in various timelines that led to the deaths of numerous humans and Hosts alike. This is tied to a mystery involving a red ball which could hold the key to a human-Host hybrid. Still, as Bernard tries to sort out his real memories, increasingly frustrated fans are thrown for as much of a loop as the Host is, though that hasn't prevented a slew of Bernard theories from taking shape.
Fan complaints about those (and other) issues aside, Westworld remains impressive, prestige TV boasting a cast of world-class actors. Season 2 is now halfway done, which means the series is bound to build momentum towards what fans hope is a shocking conclusion. With that in mind, it's worth noting what about Westworld season 2 works well and why the show is still appointment viewing:
This Page: Westworld Has Made (Some) Great Additions In Season 2
The New Parks Are Amazing
Shogun World - and the existence of five more theme parks located on a massive island owned by the Delos Corporation - was teased at the end of Season 1. It took until Episode 5, "Anake No Mai", for fans to finally get to explore Shogun World and the park did not disappoint. Themed for the Edo period of Japanese history, Shogun World is as sumptuously designed as its Wild West-themed sister resort. Indeed, we learned from the parks' head writer Lee Sizemore that Shogun World duplicates many of Westworld's characters and storylines (because the parks simply require too much creative work and it was more expedient to reuse what was already there). But even though the geisha named Akane is basically a doppelganger of Maeve and the ronin samurai Musashi is a Japanese version of Hector Escaton, Shogun World is a truly impressive locale meant for guests who find Westworld itself "too tame". Plus there are ninjas!
But before fans got to see Shogun World, the series introduced a surprise third park: The Raj. This stunning, peacock-laden resort is themed for the British colonization of India. In the Raj, guests are catered to hand and foot (and in whatever other ways they desire) by Indian servant Hosts before they indulge in elephant rides and Bengal tiger hunting excursions. The Raj was seen right when the Host rebellion occurred, where the androids rose up and began slaughtering the unsuspecting humans. Emily, later revealed as the daughter of the Man in Black, was staying in the Raj under the name Grace was a rare survivor.
Both of the Raj and Shogun World are worth the price of Season 2 admission for fans. The two new parks have offered a welcome change of locale from the well-explored environment of Westworld itself, which is now littered with human and Host corpses.
The Delos Corporation's Bigger Plans Are Diabolical
Season 2 has utilized flashbacks to whisk fans out of the confines of Westworld and show the origin of the park. But what's truly interesting is the truth of just what Westworld's owners, the Delos Corporation, are really up to and why they committed billions to fund this android technology in the first place. The multinational conglomerate isn't truly interested in running an elite tourist destination resort for the mega-rich to cavort with robots. Delos is in this for what they can get from those very guests: Facebook-like info-gathering about their private lives and even samples of their DNA. Part of their endgame is seemingly to perfect the technology to create hybrids, transplanting a human brain into a Host body, so that a person can essentially live forever.
The test subject of this scheme, which echoes the concept of Altered Carbon on Netflix, is the company's founder James Delos himself. Yet despite over 140 attempts, Delos' experiment couldn't be perfected. This is just one long-range application of the technology humans hope to use to benefit themselves, but it's one that would have a seismic impact on the world of the series.