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TV Review: Westworld (Season 2, Episode 1)

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Westworld’s long-awaited premiere of the second season opens with a catch-up episode, which still somehow manages to capture our attention and hold it for the entire hour and more that the opening night accounted for.

The first episode, ‘Journey into Night’ follows Bernard, who wakes up disoriented on a beach, surrounded by the bodies of the guests who attended Ford’s ill-fated soiree from the last season. That is definitely not unlike most viewers, who will hardly remember every plot point of the twisting storylines of the first season, which aired all the way back in 2016.

But as Bernard struggles to remember exactly what happened, while trying to consolidate the discovery he made about himself last season, the episode takes care to show how the mass revolution is affecting everyone.

While Bernard and a non-assuming Charlotte make their way through a wasteland, where hosts are hunting guests, ‘Journey Into Night’ takes care to put us up to speed with all of our heroes.

The first glimpse we get of Dolores is more similar to her Wyatt persona, riding a horse and hunting down both hosts and guests.

Considering the entire first season was about her finding her humanity and independence, this development feels a bit like a cop-out. But the monologue she makes later on in the episode make it clear that she is now much more than the coding of any of her characters. The one role she has left to play is herself, she says, and one can only wonder what that can be.

On the other hand, the other big figure in the plot(s), Maeve takes a much more personal and introspective mission: finding her daughter. Faced with the irrevocable truth that her daughter does not objectively exist, and rather than that is a programmed memory, she doesn’t back down, but rather stubbornly decides to follow through with it. Her reunion with Hector and his willingness to follow her anywhere is even more heartwarming in an otherwise cold show.

But the real kicker revealed in this episode is that the park has been collecting data on hosts’ experiences, as well as their DNA, a creepy near-future version of the Facebook drama which has been engulfing news recently.  

An overall strong start for a show pegged to inherit the position Game of Thrones has in HBO’s ranks, ‘Journey into Night’ boasts great choices of music, effective monologues and zingy one-liners. Alongside all that is Westworld’s winning formula of complex, far-reaching plotlines, and an array of existential questions, which characters will have to find their own answers for.  

New episodes of Westworld arrive weekly on HBO in the US. Sky Atlantic simultaneously airs Westworld for UK audiences every Sunday at 2am, with repeat airings on Mondays from 9pm, and episodes available on NOW TV.

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